Best online class sites: do these online courses from the comfort of home – TechRadar India

When you're stuck at home, working and relaxing aren't the only two things you can do (although you can do them in spades). It's also very possible to use the internet to learn new things.

In particular, plenty of websites offer online classes or online courses, so you can learn new topics in a staggered and easy-to-digest way. This is ideal for taking quick lessons during a busy day or letting you do your own research between lessons.

There are online courses on a variety of topics, from sciences and technology to arts, humanities and creativity, and while some of them are quite academic, teaching you a scientific tradition or literary period, others are more life-skilled focused, like helping you be creative or write the perfect resume.

To help you find the best online class or course website for you, we've listed some of the best that are worth checking out some are free, while others are paid for. We haven't put them in order, since the websites teach in varied ways that will largely come down to personal taste.

You might have heard of MasterClass, thanks to its ubiquitous marketing. It's an online site with plenty of courses, and each is taught by a celebrity in the field. Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking, Chris Hadfield teaches space exploration, Martin Scorsese teaches film-making, Margaret Atwood teaches creative writing, and there are around 80 more.

Each lesson has plenty of classes in bite-sized chunks, along with supplemental material (workbooks, writing excerpts and recipes) and community areas where you can discuss the classes and talk to other people who are enrolled.

MasterClass has more courses in some areas than others, so if you're a fan of film, cooking, writing, business or arts, you're sure to find something here that's useful to you.

MasterClass costs $15 / 15 (roughly AU$30) per month or $180 / 180 (roughly AU$320) for an annual membership, but you can buy one-off classes for $90 / 85 (roughly AU$170). We'd recommend the annual pass though, because you'll be using the service enough to make it worth it.

Check out the MasterClass website here.

FutureLearn hosts courses from some of the biggest universities from the UK and abroad, on a host of topics in categories like healthcare and medicine, IT, computer science and teaching. There are some arts and humanities courses too, but the number and breadth of topics has certainly gone down over the years.

FutureLearn breaks its courses into bite-sized lessons, some of which are quite long. Many can be easy to get through in one sitting, though, so it's easy to consume. Once you start a course you have access to it for fourteen days (or more, if you have Unlimited mode).

It's actually free to do lessons on FutureLearn, unlike some other platforms, but if you pay $269 / 199.99 (roughly AU$400) you can unlock Unlimited mode, letting you access courses when you want and gain certificates for completing them.

Check out the FutureLearn website here

Unlike many of the online course sites on this list, Skillshare lessons aren't taught by universities but everyday people, who earn a living in the field. It's a different perspective, and is probably more useful for some people.

Some of the classes offered include illustration, photography, using particular software like Adobe After Effects, and self-improvement, so there's a broad mix of practical skills on offer here.

Most classes consist of between 10 and 20 lessons (roughly 5-10 minutes long), so they're very consumable. That's the perfect amount of time to use them to guide you along your own projects or creative sessions too.

Skillshare has lots of free lessons when you sign up, but the vast majority (around 20,000, according to the website) are available if you buy a Skillshare Premium account for $8 / 7 per month.

Check out the Skillshare website here

Coursera is another online class site that offers courses organized by universities, in this case primarily US institutes, on topics like Machine Learning, creative writing and digital languages.

Coursera has two extra reasons you might want to check it out, though. Firstly, it offers 'Specializations' or collections of courses that you can chain together to properly hone your skills in a certain area. Secondly, it offers actual online degrees from top universities if simple courses are too lightweight for you.

Some lessons on Coursera are free, but if you pay (prices starting $39, roughly 30 or AU$63) you can access extra quizzes and teachings, and you get a certificate at the end as well.

Check out the Coursera website here

edX, like Coursera, offers plenty of vocational skills from well-known universities in the US and abroad, so if you're looking for online courses to improve your resume, this might be a website worth checking out.

There are a few reasons to check out edX over some competitors. It offers courses in different languages (not just English), the courses are all free to access and open-source, and it has a wider range of subjects than any one of the other sites.

Check out the edX website here

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Best online class sites: do these online courses from the comfort of home - TechRadar India

A Cosmic Phenomenon: Discovery Of Connection of Energy Within A Galaxy Sparks Excitement To What Other Space S – iTech Post

Science By Renz , Apr 09, 2020 09:37 AM EDT

(Photo : Pixabay)

An unprecedented event has been discovered in the radio galaxy named ESO 137-006 showing bizarre new thread-like appendages that connect the lobes of plasma within the cosmic entity.

On Wednesday, Astronomer Dr Mpati Ramatsoku of Rhodes University announced he and his colleagues have become accustomed to the usual sight of the galaxy.

Dr Ramatsoku said the space cluster consists of a core which is home to a supermassive black hole that shoots out two jets of plasma that race at near the speed of light. The energy found within the jets will ultimately slow down and disperse, producing large radio lobes.

The astronomer also stated what makes this particular galaxy different is the appearance of what seems to be several, supplementary filaments that link the lobes.

Ramatsoku is the lead author of an international team of astronomers' study of the discovery. They are conducting this endeavour with help from the state-of-the-art radio telescope MeerKat from the Northern Cape Karoo.

The radio telescope SA MeerKat which was launched in 2018, is the means of answering fundamental astrophysical questions regarding the universe.

Ramatsoku said this particular galaxy that belongs in the Norma cluster of galaxies is quite captivating and one of the brightest in the southern sky. And its characterization being the two bright lobes of radio emission which are bent in one direction.

She added with this discovery; they now have knowledge of these new features in the form of multiple collimated synchrotron thread connecting the lobes.

The head of the South African Research Chairs Initiative for radio astronomy over at Rhodes, Professor Oleg Smirnov, expressed the team's excitement over the discovery. He said the beautiful revelations of space are of great importance for MeerKat because they are proof of its amazing capability for locating the 'unknown unknowns' within our universe.

The unexpected finding boosts the team's morale and reminds them of the very reason they undertook their profession in the first place.

Read Also: Looking For The Best Band For Your Buck? Here Are Some Cost-Efficient American Road Monsters You Can Choose From!

Further study of the phenomenon is required to understand its nature further, added Ramatsoku. She also said it is probable for the event to be distinct to the observed galaxy due to its severe climate and environment. It is correct to think the occurrence is common in other radio galaxies but are undetectable due to the lack of more powerful astronomical equipment.

She states if it is indeed more than one galaxies phenomenon, it brings about new challenges and unknowns in figuring out the true nature of these cosmic bodies.

Insight to the nature and physics of these filaments may bring with it backing for other sensitive radio interferometers such as MeerKat and future similar equipment, like the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

Smirnov credited professor Justin Jonas for being the one responsible for MeerKat's birth and the transfer of the SKA to South Africa. Having been with Rhodes since his student days, Professor Jonas was awarded the vice chancellor's distinguished achievement award last 2019.

A reporter for Herald said even the smaller institutions, such as Rhodes University, are capable of bringing about discoveries of cosmic importance to the field of space exploration.

Read Also: NASA Program To Utilize $7M In Funding Research, From Stronger Spacecraft To Landing Humans On Mars - What They Have Planned Will Blow You Away

2020 ITECHPOST, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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A Cosmic Phenomenon: Discovery Of Connection of Energy Within A Galaxy Sparks Excitement To What Other Space S - iTech Post

Classes Online And In Space – Cardinal & Cream

Jeremy Blaschke,Union University assistant professor of biology,responded to the universitys transition to online classes in a unique and engaging way by taking his students into space.

Like many institutions across the nation, Union University made the decision to move classes online beginning March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, abruptly uprooting the structured educational boundaries students and faculty have known their whole lives.

In a matter of days, professors had to restructure class material to an online format. For many courses, this meant restructuring the entire semester.For many Union professors, the idea of going online threatened the structure they were comfortable teaching in.

Blaschke decided to combat this by simulating a new kind of structure of his own through storytelling.

Its 1000 years in the future, and the humans that inhabit both Earth and Mars are almost extinct. Blaschke is a member of a 10-person crew that is exploring another planet to possibly inhabit and are reporting back to a group of biologists on the species they discover. The biologists in this scenario are the students in Blaschkes Zoology class.

There are some really crazy animals that we talk about that people have never heard of and have never imagined being real animals, said Blaschke in a news release from Union University. For a lot of these, they seem alien already.

Senior psychology and sociology major Jaime May is serving as one of Blaschkes biologists for this mission. She feels like this fictional world that Blaschke has created makes online school a little bit easier.

Im grateful that he cares so much about our education and achievement, May said, that he is willing to sacrifice more of his own time to see us succeed.

Blaschkes space exploration mission backstory is complete with a spaceship background and costume for his YouTube video lectures, and his students, divided into small groups, were tasked with creating names, backstories and personalities of their crew members. Now all of these crew members and their stories are being woven into the story that will unfold as the semester continues.

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Classes Online And In Space - Cardinal & Cream

The Pandemic Has Grounded Humankind – The Atlantic

When I asked NASA leadership whether they had changed their approach to asking for Artemis funding in the midst of the pandemic, I was prepared for the agencys usual, dreamy remarks about the importance of exploring the great unknown. The answer, while indirect, was more down-to-earth, in keeping with the tone of the times: NASA space exploration has been an economic driver for the U.S. economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs, reducing our trade deficit, and inspiring countless Americans to pursue careers in STEM fields, Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, said in a statement. Artemis will continue that long tradition, growing our economy and improving life on Earth for generations to come.

It might be tempting, for the science-fiction-minded, to think that global emergencies like this pandemic are proof that space exploration is more worthwhile than ever, because its our ticket out of here. But moving a large chunk of humanity off Earth, even if it could be done, would hardly be a panacea. Preparing a passenger ship to Mars under threat of infection would be difficult, and so would preventing the virus from hitching a ride. The International Space Station remains in operation, with three people currently on boardand three more expected to launch in Aprilbut the station is a laboratory, not a disaster bunker.

Read: What do you tell someone who still wont stay home?

Its just incredibly humbling, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at MIT, told me recently. Because we think were so great, right? We can launch all these spacecraft. Were just so powerful. And now were just basically knocked into a standstill.

Seager works on a NASA mission to detect distant planets outside our solar system, which means she spends her days thinking about worlds beyond Earth. Shes still thinking about exoplanets right nowafter all, she still has to workbut like many of us, she is glued to the news, trying to stay healthy, and navigating the strange new norms of everyday life; Massachusetts, where she lives, issued a stay-at-home advisory last week. If some big exoplanet news came out tomorrow, Seagerwhom The New York Times once referred to as The Woman Who Might Find Us Another Earthprobably wouldnt pay attention to it. I dont think people have the bandwidth to get excited about new discoveries right now, she said.

Space exploration unfolds over the course of years, even decades; it involves a particular kind of thinking about the future and requires us to imagine separate realities with all the vividness with which we experience our own. It seems almost ridiculous to ask people to consider the cosmic right now, when the great unknown can just as easily apply to the next couple of weeks.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

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The Pandemic Has Grounded Humankind - The Atlantic

More than 12,000 apply to become an astronaut for NASA’s ‘Artemis Generation’ – Space.com

The results are in and, no surprise, a lot of people want to be a NASA astronaut.

More than 12,000 people have applied to join what NASA is calling the "Artemis Generation," a new class of astronauts to help the agency return humans to the moon and reach outward to Mars. It's the second highest number of applications the agency's astronaut corps has ever received, NASA officials said.

"We've entered a bold new era of space exploration with the Artemis program, and we are thrilled to see so many incredible Americans apply to join us," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement today (April 1). "The next class of Artemis Generation astronauts will help us explore more of the moon than ever before and lead us to the Red Planet."

Related: What it's like to become a NASA astronaut: 10 surprising facts

When NASA put out the call for a new astronaut class in February, anticipation was already high. After decades flying in low Earth orbit, NASA is again shooting for the moon with its Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024. The agency hopes to continue on to Mars in the 2030s.

NASA began taking applications on March 2 and stopped on Tuesday (March 31). The space agency received applications from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories. The sheer number of applications is second only to the record 18,300 applications NASA received in 2016 for its most recent astronaut class (which graduated in January).

"For this round of applications, NASA increased the education requirement for applicants from a bachelor's degree to a master's degree in a science, technology, math, or engineering field," NASA officials said in the statement. "In addition, the application period was shortened from two months to one."

Now comes the hard part: winnowing down the massive applicant pool to just a handful of candidates with the "Right Stuff" to fly in space.

"We're able to build such a strong astronaut corps at NASA because we have such a strong pool of applicants to choose from," said Anne Roemer, NASA's manager of the Astronaut Selection Board and director of human resources at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "It's always amazing to see the diversity of education, experience and skills that are represented in our applicants."

NASA is expected to announce its final selections for the new astronaut class in mid-2021. Once selected, the astronaut candidates will spend the next 2.5 years training for spaceflight and will then have to wait to be selected for a space crew. That timeline would likely mean they may not fly until after 2024, NASA's current target for a moon return.

But the new astronauts are sure to train to fly on NASA's new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System megarocket (the centerpiece for NASA's Artemis missions), as well as for missions to the International Space Station on private spacecraft like SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner capsule.

NASA currently has 48 active astronauts and has trained 350 astronauts since the agency began training space travelers in the 1960s.

Email Tariq Malik attmalik@space.comor follow him@tariqjmalik. Follow us@Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.


More than 12,000 apply to become an astronaut for NASA's 'Artemis Generation' - Space.com

Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) 2020 Postponed To September 2020 – Space in Africa

With a focus on deliberating recent developments and innovation as well as providing pragmatic solutions to concurrent challenges in space exploration, theGlobal Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) 2020) which was scheduled to hold from 9 11 June 2020 in Palace, St. Petersburg, Russian Federationhas been postponed to 1-3 September 2020.

This is due to the current COVID-19 situation. It is the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and ROSCOSMOS commitment to organize this important conference under circumstances and at dates that will assure the safety of all participants and will allow everybody to travel. With this in mind the team will continue to monitor the situation closely and depending on the global developments by mid-June intends to re-confirm the date of 1 3 September 2020 or inform about any eventually necessary further postponement.

New Report: The African space economy is now worth USD 7 billion and is projected to grow at a 7.3% compound annual growth rate to exceed USD 10 billion by 2024. Read the executive summary of the African Space Industry Report - 2019 Edition to learn more about the industry. You can order the report online.

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Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) 2020 Postponed To September 2020 - Space in Africa

Are China’s moon missions a threat to the US? Space experts don’t think so – Space.com

U.S. fears that China could set up a moon base for spying do not line up with the country's statements about its space program, according to security experts.

China's work in space has hit headlines these past few months as NASA's authorization bill for fiscal year 2020 proceeds through the government's approval process. The House version of the bill, passed in late January, calls for the National Security Council "to coordinate an interagency assessment of the space exploration capabilities of the People's Republic of China," including both "any threats to United States assets in space" and China's plans to partner with other countries.

Although the bill does not mention moon activities specifically, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., told delegates at the Space Foundation's State of Space conference in February that he is worried about the security implications if China has a permanent presence on the moon.

Related: Chang'e 4 in pictures: China's mission to the moon's far side

"They very much have military thoughts in mind when it comes to what they can do with a military presence on the moon, and the ability to see things and track things with the unchanging platforms that no one really has right now," Lamborn said at the conference, referring to media reports from 2019 that the Chinese may be considering establishing a robotic base at the moon's south pole.

China is indeed busy building up lunar capabilities, particularly after the success of the Chang'e-4 mission to the far side of the moon that includes a rover and a lander, which touched down in January 2019. China is also planning a sample-return mission known as Chang'e 5, scheduled to lift off in 2020 and land in Oceanus Procellarum. An overview of the nation's moon plans published in Science last year suggests that Chang'e 6 will return samples and Chang'e 7 will examine the lunar south pole's environment and resources. Both Chang'e 6 and Chang'e 7 are expected to lift off in the 2020s.

And China does not separate its scientific and military space programs as the U.S. does, with NASA being a strictly civilian agency. Instead, the China National Space Administration is a branch of the Chinese military. So when media reports emerged in October that China was building a spacecraft outside sources say may be capable of carrying humans to the moon, some worried that the transition from robotic to human exploration could pave the way for a more military focus at the moon.

But this ambitious robotic lunar plan does not seem like a military threat, according to an expert on China's space program. "It may, in the minds of some Americans, present some sort of geopolitical or psychological challenge," Gregory Kulacki, the Union of Concerned Scientists' China project manager for the global security program, said in an email to Space.com. "But I find it difficult to see how a Chinese landing on the moon is threatening to the United States or any other nation."

Right now, there are few opportunities for NASA to collaborate with China, since a congressional mandate has banned the agency from cooperating with China without prior approval since 2011. But Kulacki said the U.S. should consider collaborations in space with China. There is a precedent: NASA and the Soviet Union had many scientific collaborations during the Cold War, including a joint human mission called the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.

But the Soviet Union was interested in partnering in low Earth orbit; China may not be. Its human spaceflight goals are based on a blueprint first set out in the 1980s under a program known as Project 921, Dean Cheng, a research fellow for Asian Studies at the Heritage Foundation, told Space.com. The project calls for a Chinese ability (not a multinational ability, he emphasized) to send a person into orbit around Earth. China further set out its goals in five-year plans, the current of which runs through 2021.

So far, Cheng said, China's five-year plans have closely followed Project 921 and no human visits to the moon have been envisioned so far. Today, the program features the Earth-orbiting Shenzhou spacecraft (which fly roughly every two years) and a series of small space stations called Tiangong, which have seen occasional visits by taikonauts, Chinese astronauts.

"We in the West speculate that presumably these programs will merge somewhere along the line," Cheng said, referring to the Earth-orbiting human program and the lunar robotic program. "You get lots of speculation about how, where, what, and when, but as far as I know, we have never seen a Chinese official statement that they are going to the moon [with humans]."

And if China does shift its human-exploration focus to the moon, how soon would they try to land? Nowhere near as quickly as the U.S., which is trying to land people on the moon's south pole in 2024, according to Cheng. He said there is "no reason" to think a landing would happen between 2021 and 2026, as China's heavy-lift rocket that presumably would be used for human moon missions the Long March 5 has not yet been approved to carry humans.

A crewed lunar mission in the late 2020s is possible, he said, but "extraordinarily ambitious" given that China currently launches people into space every two years and has not gathered the detailed information on human performance in space that it would want before embarking on more far-ranging flights.

"What that would suggest is a 2031 to 2035 time frame," Cheng said. "But that's Dean Cheng's opinion. There is no official Chinese policy."

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Are China's moon missions a threat to the US? Space experts don't think so - Space.com

"Soviet Space Graphics" reveals future hidden behind the Iron Curtain – Quartz

This is the perfect time for books, Alexandra Sankova tells me from her apartment in Moscow. Like many of us, Sankova is sheltering in place in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, which also makes it the perfect time to fantasize about getting off the planet.

Sankova is a co-founder of the Moscow Design Museum who has dedicated her recent career to collecting and cataloguing the distinctive design of the Soviet era. Her book Soviet Space Graphics, published April 1 by Phaidon, collects imagery from popular magazines that promoted space exploration and technology behind the Iron Curtain.

These magazines were something like a mix between Popular Science and Soviet propaganda, designed for an audience that had only basic material goods but wanted to participate in the USSRs advanced space technology program. Many [of the magazines] are published today but they lost this incredible design focus as before, she notes. Technology for the Youth remains a leading monthly.

The whole culture from the 1920s, from the revolution, people were very enthusiastic and they were dreaming about discovering and exploring space, and many books and movies were talking about Soviets arriving to other civilizations, Sankova says.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky is perhaps best known for his mathematical descriptions of the physics of space travel, but he was also a major booster of science fiction whose embrace by Russian revolutionaries helped link communism and space science. Alexei Tolstoy, a distant relative of the great Leo, wrote Aelita,an influential science fiction novel about a communist uprising on Mars, in the early 1920s. By 1924, it had been made into a silent film. (You can watch it on YouTube.) All of this provided fertile ground for designers and illustrators.

After World War II, Russia and the US recruited German scientists to jump-start rocketry programs. The impetus to design vehicles to both deliver nuclear weapons and to stop those deliveries led each nation to look to the stars. Russia reeled off a series of impressive firsts, including the first satellite, the first animal in space, the first man and woman in space, and the first probe to land on the lunar surface.

As the Soviet space program evolved, so did the designs. Initially, many were pictures of machines and distant planets. With the rise of human spaceflight, depictions of cosmonauts and their work became more common, eventually expanding to expansive, utopian visions of the future.

Sankovas favorite style are more abstract renderings from magazines like Knowledge is Power, which sacrifice the technical diagram qualities of other illustrations but open up the imagination.

The work reflects both the aspirations of the centralized state and its frustration. One designer, Sankova says, began his work as an automotive engineer but couldnt see his designs catching on in the planned economy, so funneled his great ideas and dreams about how the world should look like in the futureinto the illustrations. He was describing a world that he would love to design.

Sankova recalls growing up with these magazines as a child, but she worries modern Russians are losing touch with their cultural heritage. Its bad because without knowing your history and knowing your past, you cannot move on, she says. We are trying with our collection to put together also history.

That may matter more now than ever, with major powers flirting with a return to Cold War dynamics.

Some countries are developing a nuclear missile, some countries are thinking of new chemical and biological arms, Sankova says. The space thing is again very interesting, because everyone is looking, following and focused on what Elon Musk is doing. I think that these issueshow we can live under the water or under the Earth, outside of the land, are starting to again be interesting. Technology is very improved, but still a virus can stop a planet.

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"Soviet Space Graphics" reveals future hidden behind the Iron Curtain - Quartz

The Man Who Wanted to Fly on Mars – Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Mars Helicopter is riding to the Red Planet this summer with NASA's Perseverance rover. The helicopter's chief engineer, Bob Balaram, shares the saga of how it came into being.

Evenbefore this interviewer can finish the question, "Did anyone ever tell youthis was a crazy idea?" Bob Balaram jumps in: "Everyone. All the time."

This"crazy idea" is the Mars Helicopter, currently at Kennedy Space Center waiting to hitch a ride to theRed Planet on the Mars Perseverance rover this summer.

AlthoughBalaram probably didn't know it at the time, the seed for an idea like thissprouted for him in the 1960s Apollo era, during his childhood in south India.His uncle wrote to the U.S. Consulate, asking for information about NASA andspace exploration. The bulging envelope they sent back, stuffed with glossybooklets, entranced young Bob. His interest in space was piqued further bylistening to the Moon landing on the radio. "I gobbled it up," hesays. "Long before the internet, the U.S. had good outreach. You had myeyeballs."

Hisactive brain and fertile imagination focused on getting an education, whichwould lead him to a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the IndianInstitute of Technology, a master's and Ph.D. in computer and systemsengineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a career at NASA's JetPropulsion Laboratory in Southern California. That's where he has remained for35 years as a robotics technologist.

Balaram'scareer has encompassed robotic arms, early Mars rovers, technology for anotional balloon mission to explore Venus and a stint as lead for the MarsScience Laboratory entry, descent and landing simulation software.

CuttingThrough Obstacles, Red Tape and the Martian Atmosphere

Aswith many innovative ideas, it took a village to make the helicopter happen. Inthe 1990s, Balaram attended a professional conference, where Stanford professorIlan Kroo spoke about a "mesicopter," a miniature airborne vehiclefor Earth applications that was funded as a NASA Innovative Advanced Conceptsproposal.

Thisled Balaram to think about using one on Mars. He suggested a joint proposalwith Stanford for a NASA Research Announcement submission and recruited AeroVironment,a small company in Simi Valley, California. The proposal got favorable reviews,and although it was not selected for funding at that time, it did yield ablade-rotor test under Mars conditions at JPL. Other than that, the idea "saton a shelf" for 15 years.

Fastforward to a conference where the University of Pennsylvania presented aboutthe use of drones and helicopters. Charles Elachi, then director of JPL,attended that session. When he returned to JPL, he asked whether something likethis could be used on Mars. A colleague of Balaram's mentioned his previouswork in that area of research. Balaramdusted off that proposal, and Elachi asked him to write a new one for thecompetitive call for Mars 2020 investigation payloads. This sped up the processof developing a concept.

Balaramand his team had eight weeks to submit a proposal. Working day and night, theymet the deadline with two weeks to spare.

Althoughthe helicopter idea was not selected as an instrument, it was funded fortechnology development and risk reduction. Mimi Aung became Mars Helicopter projectmanager, and after the team worked on risk reduction, NASA decided to fund thehelicopter for flight as a technology demonstration.

Buildingand Testing a Beast

Sothen the reality set in: How does one actually build a helicopter to fly onMars and get it to work?

Noeasy feat. Balaram describes it as a perfectly blank canvas, but withrestrictions. His physics background helped him envision flying on Mars, a planetwith an atmosphere that is only 1% as dense as Earth's. He compares it toflying on Earth at a 100,000-foot (30,500-meter) altitude - about seventimes higher than a typical terrestrial helicopter can fly. Another challengewas that the copter could carry only a few kilograms, including the weight ofbatteries and a radio for communications. "You can't just throw mass atit, because it needed to fly," he says.

Itdawned on Balaram that it was like building a new kind of aircraft that justhappens to be a spacecraft. And because it is a "passenger" on aflagship mission, he says, "we have to guarantee 100% that it will besafe."

Theend result: a 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) helicopter with two pairs of light counter-rotatingblades - an upper and lower pair, to slice through the Martian atmosphere. Eachpair of blades spans 4 feet (1.2 meters) in diameter.

Onceit was built, Balaram says, the question was, "How do you test this beast?There's no book saying how." Because there is no easily accessible placeon Earth with a thin atmosphere like the one on Mars, they ran tests in avacuum chamber and the 25-foot Space Simulation Chamber at JPL.

Abouttwo-and-a-half months after landing at Jezero Crater, the Mars Helicopter teamwill have a window of about 30 days to perform a technology demonstration inthe actual environment of the planet, starting with a series of vehiclecheckouts, followed by attempts of first-ever flights in the very thin Martian atmosphere.

Despitebest efforts and the best tests available on Earth, this is a high-risk,high-reward technology demonstration, with Balaram saying quite frankly, "Wecould fail."

Butif this "crazy idea" succeeds on Mars, it will be what Balaram describesas "kind of a Wright Brothers moment on another planet" - the firsttime a powered aircraft will have flown on Mars, or any planet besides Earth,for that matter. This potential breakthrough could help pave the way for futurecraft that would expand NASA's portfolio of vehicles to explore other worlds.

Andpartly because there have been so many challenges along the way, it's atestament to the dedication, vision, persistence and attitude of Balaram andhis colleagues that the Mars Helicopter concept was funded, planned, developedand built and is heading to the Red Planet this summer.

"Bob isthe inventor of our Mars Helicopter. He innovated the design and followed up onthat vision to its fruition as chief engineer through all phases of design, developmentand test," says project manager Aung. "Whenever we encountered atechnical roadblock - and we encountered many roadblocks - we always turned toBob, who always carries an inexhaustible set of potential solutions to beconsidered. Come to think of it, I don't think I have ever seen Bob feelingstuck at any point!"

The Home StretchToward Mars

Themain purpose of the Mars 2020 mission is to deliver the Perseverance rover,which will not only continue to explore the past habitability of the planet,but will actually search for signs of ancient microbial life. It will alsocache rock and soil samples for pickup by a potential future mission and helppave the way for future human exploration of Mars. Even if the helicopterencounters difficulties, the science-gathering mission of the Perseverancerover won't be affected.

Balarampoints out that in addition to the usual "seven minutes of terror" experienced by theteam on Earth during a Mars landing, once the helicopter is on Mars andattempting to fly, "This is the seven seconds of terror every time we takeoff or land."

DoesBalaram worry about all this, even a little? "There's been a crisis everysingle week of the last six years," he says. "I'm used to it."

Balaramsheds any stress that may crop up through backpacking, hiking and massage. There'salso his very supportive wife, Sandy, who bears a title within the team and herown acronym: CMO, or Chief Morale Officer. She has regularly baked cakes, piesand other goodies for Balaram to share with his colleagues for sustenanceduring the long process.

Andhe has high praise for his teammates on the Mars Helicopter project, saying thepeople attracted to it are agile and fast-moving. "It's a great team,determined to dare mighty things - that's the fun part," Balaram says. Histake on daring mighty things: "Good ideas don't die - they just take awhile."

News Media Contact

DC AgleJet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.818-393-9011agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Written by Jane Platt


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The Man Who Wanted to Fly on Mars - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance rover has a hidden message for the Red Planet – Space.com

NASA's Perseverance rover will explore Mars for all of humanity, which a coded message aboard the robot makes clear.

The car-size Perseverance, which is scheduled to launch to the Red Planet this July, carries a special commemorative plate that holds small silicon chips bearing the names of more than 10.9 million people who participated in NASA's "Send Your Name to Mars" campaign.

That plate also features a diagram of Earth, Mars and the sun, whose rays are not nearly as random as they look. Indeed, the sunbeams on this plate actually spell out "Explore as One" in Morse code, mission team members revealed via Twitter on Monday (March 30).

More: NASA's Mars 2020 rover Perseverance in pictures

Perseverance will land next February inside Mars' 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater, which harbored a lake and a river delta in the ancient past. The rover will scour Jezero for signs of long-dead Mars life, characterize the region's geology and test out next-gen exploration gear, including a small helicopter scout and an instrument that generates oxygen from the thin, carbon dioxide-dominated Martian atmosphere.

Perseverance will have other duties as well. Chief among them will be to collect and cache samples for a future return to Earth, where scientists will be able to analyze them in detail in well-equipped labs. NASA and the European Space Agency will work together to bring these samples home, which could happen as early as 2031.

Perseverance is following in the footsteps of NASA's Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars' 96-mile-wide (154 km) Gale Crater since August 2012. Curiosity's main mission goal involves assessing Gale's past habitability, and the rover's work has shown that the crater hosted a potentially life-supporting lake-and-stream system for long stretches in the ancient past.

The two big rovers share the same basic body design and the same landing system a rocket-powered sky crane that lowers the robots onto the Martian surface via cables. And we now know there's some code commonality as well: the Curiosity team designed the rover's wheels to spell out "JPL" in Morse code in the Martian dirt.

JPL is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, NASA's go-to center for robotic planetary exploration. JPL manages the missions of both Curiosity and Perseverance, as well as many other exploration projects.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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NASA's Mars rover Perseverance rover has a hidden message for the Red Planet - Space.com

Composites in the race to space – CompositesWorld

July 20, 2019 marked the 50-year anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing. Though, at the time the Apollo capsule was built, the composites industry was still in its infancy and the materials were not yet in widespread use, the Apollo capsule used early composite technology in the form of an ablative heat shield made from Avcoat, an epoxy novolac resin with silica fibers in a fiberglass-phenolic honeycomb matrix. A fiberglass honeycomb was bonded to the primary structure and the paste-like material was injected into each cell individually. Since Apollo, advanced composites have evolved by leaps and bounds, and have played a significant role in space programs with use in launch vehicles, the space shuttle, satellites, space telescopes and the International Space Station.

Today, the human race finds itself poised for some exciting new steps into space exploration. The current administration has called for a return to the moon by U.S. astronauts by 2024 and has announced a 2021 budget of more than $25 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administrations (NASA, Washington, D.C., U.S.) human space exploration program. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine says the budget is one of the strongest budgets in NASA history.

Old school. Apollos heat shield was madeof epoxy phenolic novolac resinin a fiberglass honeycomb. CW photos | Scott Francis

In addition to another moon shot, NASA has current and forthcoming missions to study our solar system from the sun to the icy moons of the outermost planets and beyond. Missions to explore the sun are currently underway: at the time of this writing, the Parker Solar Probe is currently monitoring the suns atmosphere and a Solar Orbiter has successfully launched. Efforts are also underway to further the exploration of exoplanets and distant galaxies through the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission and the James Webb Space Telescope, the latter of which has madestrides toward launch-readiness over the past year.

New spacecraft and programs have also resulted in recent years from increased collaboration between national and international space agencies as well as commercial companies. For example, SpaceX (Hawthorne, Calif., U.S.), with its Crew Dragon spacecraft, and Boeing Space and Launch (Arlington, Va., U.S.), with its Starliner spacecraft, are racing toward the first crewed U.S. spaceflight since the discontinuation of the space shuttle program in July 2011. The two companies have been performing test flights with NASA in hopes of a crewed mission in 2021.

From the increased support of NASAs space program to the explosive growth of commercial space, the human race seems trulypoised for the next great space age. Composites and advanced materials play an increasingly larger role in the manufacture of the launchers, spacecraft and instruments that make all of this exploration possible.

The overarching program to return humans to the moon is named after Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon and the hunt, the twin sister of Apollo and the scope of the program is vast. Artemis will establish a lunar-orbit base, allowing astronauts to not only further explore the moon, but also use the moon as an outpost for eventual missions to Mars. Several projects make up the Artemis program, including a new heavy launch system known as the Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion crew vessel, a lunar orbit space station known as Gateway and a lunar lander.Advanced composites factor into all of these components in one way or another.

Heavy launcher. SLS Rocket Stage being prepared for shipping. Source | NASA

NASAs new heavy launch vehicle is aimed at enabling exploration beyond Earths orbit. In 2015 NASA invested in an Electroimpact (Mukilteo, Wash., U.S.) automated fiber placement (AFP) machine to manufacture large-scale rocket parts comprising sandwich structures of more than 8 meters in diameter made of carbon fiber skins with an aluminum honeycomb core. The AFP head holds up to 16 spools of carbon fiber and is positioned at the end of a 21-foot robot arm that places the fibers onto a tooling surface in precise patterns to form structures of varying shapes and sizes.

Similar sandwich structures are created by RUAG Space (Decatur, Ala., U.S.) using a manual layup process. The company is working with Dynetics (Huntsville, Ala., U.S.) on a Universal Stage Adapter (USA) that will join the upper stage of SLS to the Orion crew module. RUAG Space will manufacture the adapters 8.4-meter-diameter shell comprising four composite honeycomb core quarter panels that will be hot-bonded together (Learn more).

Crew module.TheOrion spacecraft being prepared for thermal testing. Source | NASA

Consisting of a command module manufactured by Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, Md., U.S.) and a service module provided by the European Space Agency (ESA, Paris, France) and manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space (Ottobrunn, Germany), Orion is the heart of the Artemis program and will carry astronauts to space, serve as the exploration vehicle during space travel and return the crew to Earth.

Solid rocket motor case.Aerojet Rocketdyne is using a new carbon fiber winding machine to produce solid rocket motor casesat its Huntsville, Ala., U.S., Advanced Manufacturing Facility. Source | Aerojet Rocketdyne

Orions propulsion system includes numerous components manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne(Sacramento, Calif., U.S.), including eight 110-pound thrust biopropellant auxiliary engines based on Aerojet Rocketdyne's R-4D engine family. Aerojet Rocketdyne also provides the the Launch Abort System (LAS) jettison motor and composite overwrapped pressure vessels for the spacecraft.In early 2020, Aerojet Rocketdyne installed a carbon fiber winding machine to produce its solid rocket motor cases (Learn more).

Heat shield. Orions carbon fiber heat shield is manufactured using an out-of-autoclave prepreg from Toray Advanced Composites. Source | Lockheed Martin

For reentry, Orion uses a 5-meter diameter carbon fiber heat shield manufactured by Lockheed Martin that is manufactured as a sandwich structure featuring carbon fiber skins and a titanium honeycomb core. The heat shield is then covered in panels of Avcoat the same ablative material used for the Apollo missions (Learn more).

Four compression padsof ablative material are attached to the heat shield with titanium bolts at points where the command module attaches to the service module.The compression pads must resist structural loads during launch and ascent, as well as pyro-shock (from explosive bolts) during the separation of the two modules. They must also meet reentry demands for high-temperature resistance and ablation. Carbon fiber/phenolic pads were used on the first flight Orion test vehicle, but showed evidence of inter-laminar cracks post flight and were replaced with a3D woven solution known as 3D Multifunctional Ablative TPS (3D-MAT) that uses a 3D woven quartz material from Bally Ribbon Mills (Bally, Pa., U.S.) and a cyanate ester resin system from Toray Advanced Composites(Learn more).

Orion compression pad. Source | NASA

Gateway. Artists rendering shows Orionin the process of docking with the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway. Source | NASA

Gateway is a lunar-orbit space station being developed by NASA along with international partners including Russian, Canadian, Japanese and European space agencies. Gateway's role is to support exploration of the moon and to serve as outpost for eventual missions to Mars. The various modules for the station are in development and will likely employ composite materials in some fashion.

A Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL; Dayton, Ohio, U.S.) and Deployable Space Systems using high-strain composites (HSC) will be used in the Gateway program. HSCs are thin, lightweight composite materials engineered to fit into small packages and deploy by unfurling. The ROSA system uses two carbon fiber HSC booms to roll out and tension a large solar array blanket. (Learn more about HSCs).

Another potential contribution to Gateway is the Canadarm-3. Proposed by the Canadian Space Agency (Longueuil, Quebec, Canada), the device is a 8.5-meter robotic arm built from carbon fiber composites. Previous Canadarm systems have been used on the space shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS).

Numerous companies are working on lunar landing system concepts for Artemis, all of which include potential for composite materials. For example, Blue Origin (Kent, Wash., U.S.) is partnering with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman (Falls Church, Va., U.S.) and Draper (Cambridge, Mass., U.S.) on a proposed three-vehicle lunar landing system: Blue Origins Blue Moon lunar lander, a Transfer Element vehicle provided by Northrop Grumman that will position the landing system in lunar orbit, and an Ascent Element vehicle provided by Lockheed Martin that will return astronauts to lunar orbit from the moons surface. A descent guidance system and flight avionics will be provided by Draper. Several other companies working on lunar lander concepts include Boeing, Dynetics, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corp. (Louisville, Colo. and Madison, Wis., U.S.).

In addition to crewed lunar landers, NASA anticipates the need for both small and mid-size lunar landers to enable a variety of science investigations and large technology demonstration payloads.

Artemis xEMU. NASAs new EVA suit provides improved range of mobility. Source | NASA

In October 2019, NASA unveiled two new spacesuit designs a new Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) and the Orion Crew Survival System (OCSS) suit both of which will be used for the Artemis program moon missions.

The xEMU suit is reported to offer a much improved range of mobility over suits currently in use for extravehicular activity (EVA). According to ILC Dover (Frederica, Del., U.S.), who has longstanding relationship with NASA manufacturing space suits, the xEMU suit is an update of an advance walking suit delivered to NASA in 2016 known as the Z-2.

Since 2016, ILC Dover has continued to improve the design of walking suits, as well as zero-g suits and launch entry suits, says Dan Klopp, product marketing for ILC Dover.

The Z-2 spacesuit prototype features a carbon/epoxy torso and hip elements in the design. (See "On Mars, not just any suit will do for more on composites use in spacesuits.)

NASAs OCSS spacesuit is designed as a pressurized launch and entry suit for Orion crew members. While NASA has not released details on the materials in the new design, its a safe bet that a fair amount composites are involved. Shuttle-era launch and entry suits featured an outer layer of DuPonts (Richmond, Va., U.S.) flame-resistant meta-aramid Nomex. Previous Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs) have used combinations of Nomex, the para-aramid Kevlar (also developed by DuPont) and Gore-Tex, a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane manufactured by W.L. Gore & Assoc. (Newark, Del., U.S.) (Learn more).

Rover. The Mars 2020 rover will weigh less than the average compact car. Source | NASA

A large part of the Artemis initiative is setting the stage to send humans to Mars. In the meantime, NASA also is working toward an unmanned mission to Mars this summer that will establish a new robotic rover and a robotic exploratory helicopter on the red planet.

Aeroshell. The aeroshell is designed to protect the Mars rover during atmospheric entry and landing. Source | Lockheed Martin

A capsule-shaped aeroshell will protect the Mars 2020 rover during entry into Mars atmosphere and landing. The aeroshell is made of an aluminum honeycomb with carbon fiber skins. The heat shield uses a tiled phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA)thermal protection system.

Mars helicopter.More than 1,500 individual pieces of carbon fiber were used in the construction of the Mars helicopter. Source | NASA

The Mars 2020 Rover itself is approximately 10 feet long, 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall (3 meters long, 2.7 meters wide, 2.2 meters tall). While NASA hasnt released details about the materials used to construct the rover, it is known that Advanced Composites Training (ACT, London, Ontario, Canada) served as a consultant to NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL, Pasadena, Calif., U.S.) on the use of composite materials for construction of the Mars 2020 rover (Learn more).

At 2,314 pounds (1,050 kilograms), the rover will weigh less than the average compact car. It needs to be both lightweight and durable for the journey to the red planet, and also needs to be strong enough to carry cameras and scientific instruments, as well as the Mars Helicopter another composites-intensive craft that will be used to explore the planet.

TheMars Helicopter is constructed of more than 1,500 individual pieces of carbon fiber, flight-grade aluminum, silicon, copper, foil and foam and weighs no more than 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) (Learn more).

Two missions are currently underway to improve ourunderstanding of the sun and its behaviors, both with the ultimate goal of forecasting solar storms that can affect terrestrial electrical systems, satellite communications and GPS.

Solar probe. Parker Solar Probes carbon fiber composite foam TPS is designed to withstand the heat of the sun's corona.Source | NASA

The Parker Solar Probelaunched in August 2018 and performs in-situ measurements and imaging to study the corona of the sun and solar wind. In order to endure the extreme temperatures in this region, the probe uses a 4.5-inch-thick lightweight reflective shield. This thermal protection system (TPS) is made from carbon fiber composite foam sandwiched between two carbon laminatesand coated with white ceramic paint on the sun-facing surface. The shield was designed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (Laurel, Md., U.S.) and built at Carbon-Carbon Advanced Technologies (Kennedale, Texas, U.S.).

Most of the probes instruments are tucked behind the TPS, and sensors along the edge of the heat shield keep the spacecraft positioned correctly. Solar arrays that are used to power the craft can be retracted into the heat shields shadow for protection. A simple cooling system that operates by circulating about a gallon of water is also employed to keep the solar arrays and instrumentation cool.

In January 2019, NASA reported that Parker Solar Probe was operating as designed following its fourth close approach to the sun, known as a perihelion. The crafts TPS reached a new record temperature of 1,134 F (612 C), though the spacecraft and instruments behind this protective heat shield remained at a temperature of about 85 F (30 C). During the spacecrafts closest three perihelia in 2024-25, the TPS will see temperatures around 2,500 F (1,370 C).

Solar shield. A carbon fiber composite/titanium layered solar shield protects the Solar Orbiter from the heat of the sun. Source | ESA

Solar Orbiter, a collaborative mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA , launched in February 2020. The orbiter is on a unique trajectory that will allow its comprehensive set of instruments to provide the first-ever images of the sun's poles.

The spacecraft is protected by a carbon fiber composite/titanium layered solar shield with apertures for various instruments. The 324-pound heat shield can withstand up to 970 F (521 C) and uses a 0.05-millimeter-thick layer of titanium foil to reflect heat. The shield is supported by a 2.94-by-2.56-meter support panel that is about 5 centimeters thick and made of lightweight aluminum honeycomb with two high thermal conductivity carbon fiber skins. Further protection is provided by multi-layer insulation capable of withstanding 572 F (300 C). Solar Orbiters heat shield is coated with a thin, black layer of calcium phosphate.

Space telescope. Using infared light, the James Webb Space Telescope will allow astronomers to observe the most distant objects in the universe. Source | NASA

In August 2019, engineers at Northrop Grummans facilities in in Redondo Beach, Calif., U.S., mechanically connected the James Webb Space Telescopes (JWST) Optical Telescope Element, which includes mirror and science instruments, and the Space Craft Element, which combines JWSTs sunshield and spacecraft, for the first time. Although both components of the telescope have been tested individually, this marks the first time the two halves have been combined into a single observatory. The milestone was an important one for Webb as the telescope inches toward its planned launch in 2021.

JWST is the most powerful and complex space telescope ever built 100 times more powerful than the Hubble telescope. Designed to explore the cosmos using infrared light, the telescope will allow astronomers to observe the most distant objects in the universe, providing images of distant stars, exoplanets and the first galaxies formed. The telescope is also an exciting example of how composites enable satellites and spacecraft.

The telescope platform is made up of three major components theOptical Telescope Element (OTE), the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM), and the Space Craft Element (SCE), which includes the spacecraft bus and the tennis-court sized sunshield.

JWST employs a carbon fiber backplane to support the telescopes mirrors, instruments and other elements a total of more than 2,400 kilograms (2.5 tons) of hardware. The structure is also responsible for keeping the telescope steady during long periods of light collection. The backplane cannot vary more than 38 nanometers despite extreme temperatures ranging from -406F to -343F (-243C to -208C).

The backplane is made from prepreg comprising carbon fiber provided by Toray Advanced Composites and cyanate ester resin from Hexcel (Stamford, Conn., U.S.). The structureincludes more than 10,000 lightweight carbon fiber composite parts. The entire backplane structure includes the center section, the wing assemblies and the backplane support fixture (BSF), and measures approximately 24 feet tall by 19.5 feet wide by more than 11 feet deep (7.3 by 5.9 by 3.4 meters) when fully deployed. It weighs only 2,180 pounds (989 kilograms), but will support instruments weighing more than 7,300 pounds (3,311 kilograms) a payload of more than 300% its own weight.

In addition to the primary mirror and backplane structure, JWST'sOTE includes its Deployable Tower Assembly (DTA), the secondary mirror support structure and the ISIM framework that houses the telescopes scientific instruments and cooling systems. These structures are made with a prepreg of ultra-high modulus carbon fiber and cyanate ester resin from Toray Advanced Composites.

These materials are very good optical bench materials, says Sean Johnson, product manager, thermosets for Toray.The high stiffness of the UHM fiber provides a very stable structure [and] provides a certain amount of damping. Its very good at the low temperatures [JWST] is going to see.

The SCE, or spacecraft bus, is also made of Torays carbon fiber composites and houses the spacecrafts propulsion, observatory support systems, solar power, active cooling systems and communications. The bus must simultaneously be lightweight yet capable of withstanding a force equivalent to 45 tons while supporting the observatory during launch.

In October 2019, JWST successfully passed its sunshield deployment testing and is currently scheduled to launch in 2021. (Learn more).

The next few years will set the stage for a whole new age of space exploration. As the spacecraft and systems needed for this new golden age continue to evolve, composites suppliers and fabricators will be constantly challenged to push the materials and technologies to new limits.

The matrix binds the fiber reinforcement, gives the composite component its shape and determines its surface quality. A composite matrix may be a polymer, ceramic, metal or carbon. Heres a guide to selection.

Proven in fan blade/case applications, carbon fiber-reinforced polymers migrate to previously unanticipated destinations nearer the engine hot zone.

As the drive to greater fuel efficiency under the hood catches fire, fiber-reinforced thermoplastics prove they can take the heat.

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Composites in the race to space - CompositesWorld

Buzz Aldrin and Americas Space Destiny – Townhall

As America prepares to make history in space returning humans to the moon, then opening a human pathway to Mars, possibly triggering human migration, voices from the past are speaking and should be heard. One such voice is that of Buzz Aldrin. His thoughts on the subject are worthy and perhaps even profound.

Many still recall July 20, 1969, the epic day on which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped from a spider-like lunar module onto the moon. They left human footprints in lunar dust and weighty imprints on the human mind and soul. They collected samples, set up experiments, and planted the American flag.

What many may not recall are some of the big lead-up decisions, including whether to employ only one rocket or attempt lunar rendezvous, sending a smaller lunar module to the surface. That decision, which proved essential to success and was not Wernher von Brauns initially preferred option but was pushed by a brilliant, persistent aerospace engineer named John Houbolt.

Houbolt felt the math, physics and orbital science supported lunar rendezvous. So did a future astronaut, then completing his PhD at MIT, not coincidentally on orbital rendezvous. That future astronauts name was Buzz Aldrin.

In short, Aldrin felt rendezvous of two spacecraft in space was feasible and could be done at moon distance. If that proved true, only one big rocket would be needed, not two. Moreover, the process could be tested in earth orbit, for final use around the moon. Houbolt insistently tried to convince NASA.

By June 1961, Houbolt who risked his career to win the ear of von Braun and others at NASA had prevailed. In one of those ironies that seems utterly improbable for those who believe in coincidence, Buzz Aldrin would end up testing spacecraft rendezvous in Gemini 12 and making the first moon landing in Apollo 11, which relied entirely on lunar rendezvous.

The point here is prescience. Aldrin was right to support Houbolt, just as he was right later to advocate neutral buoyancy and other space training techniques. When being right is even acknowledged, it is often only in the moment, and then forgotten. In this case it certainly should not be.

Proof of that essential point is evident here. Recalling these facts, shouldnt voices like Aldrins be in the room again, as we think about Americas next human steps into deeper space?

In short, what people like Houbolt and Aldrin did was think outside the box, for the benefit of the program. Like other Apollo astronauts, Aldrin was good with numbers. Like others, he risked all for America. He is still speaking and it is those words we might do well to hear now.

In 2019, he did interviews that give us pause to think. Several related to pace of progress. He thinks we need to pick it up, as momentum built for human space exploration can get lost. America is the leader and must stay there exploring Moon and Mars. On that point, he remains passionate.

How, when, and with what operational tempo, he includes in his opinions. Most of his ideas seem to sync well with Trump Administration planning. That is, they are engineering-based, not political. For example, he warns that giant leaps come with risk but need to be taken. He argues that permanent presence on the moon and Mars is more cost effective than sending people out and bringing them home to write books and give speeches. Aldrin, still a wit, knows how to apply irony.

Likewise, he believes once humans arrive at Mars, subsequent interplanetary missions should be conceived of as regular, migratory, and (importantly) more systematic than exceptional. He seems to see future interplanetary expeditions in the light of historic intercontinental settlement, not once and done events.

There is logic as well as ample math to support his notion of establishing regular, cycling - rolling and returning - Mars missions and moon visits. He asserts that there will be plenty of volunteers, and in this he seems again to be right. One motivation, he reminds audiences, is that we remember The Pilgrims, and other immigrants whose faith and daring compelled them to seek, persevere, and succeed, not those who gave up.

Additionally, in articles and speeches, he often addresses technical challenges; he does not ignore them. On the other hand, he sees them as on an order not dissimilar to ones America faced in a different time getting to the moon first.

Aldrin dares to speak his mind, which pleases some and upsets others. However, he reminds us that daring, risk, and creativity are always part of lasting human achievement. With them we advance. Without them we stagnate.

In recent years, he has pressed NASA under succeeding administrations as have some of his Apollo colleagues, including Armstrong, Collins, Cernan and Cunningham to lean forward more fully, not rest on past successes.

Aldrin has also openly questioned conventional wisdom, as he did with lunar rendezvous and neutral buoyancy training. He has wondered aloud if the goal of some commercial enterprises is truly human space exploration, or just making things government will buy. He has questioned whether Congress seeks American leadership in space or just jobs on Earth.

In asking such questions, he is unique since he is neither personal nor political, but innately honest, willing to risk criticism to spur action. His basic point: America once led human space exploration. We have it in us to lead. We should be leading. Are we committed to leading?

On the technical side, he is also painfully honest. He has offered arguments for increased international cooperation, at times when that seems less than popular. He has asked whether portions of Americas space architecture are necessary, cost-effective, efficient or likely to promote permanence.

Aldrin has dared ask for increased public-private cooperation, an international coalition to encourage launch and space-bases synergies, conversations with China, Russia, and others, and fresh focus on budgets, schedules, and safety.

If this sounds like enthusiasm from a space pioneer, it probably is. His speeches and 2019 State of the Union appearance were inspiring. He is part of a select group who dreamed about space travel, then did it.

Aldrin is iconic for countless reasons. One too much overlooked is this: His remarkable record for productive out of the box thinking. He may or may not be entirely right about the pace, progress, trade-offs, timing, techniques, efficiencies, motivations and what is possible. But he has been right before. America was built on daring and it is time to dare again in space. People like Aldrin have shown us how. Its time to press on.

John C. Mosbey, a retired USAF colonel, writes nationally on defense, space policy and geopolitical issues; he holds advanced degrees from Alabama, the Naval War College, and Trinity College, Dublin.

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Buzz Aldrin and Americas Space Destiny - Townhall

Bezos and Musks internet-from-space race is back on – The Next Web

OneWeb, the satellite startup once pegged as the leader in the race to beam high-speed internet from space, has filed for bankruptcy and blamed the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for its collapse.

The London-based firm announced it had let go most of its staff after talks to secure additional funding fell through. TheFinancial Times noted OneWeb had previously sought up to $2 billion to see it through its commercial launch before COVID-19 impacted economies worldwide.

[Read: 5G isnt going to save you from cable broadband anytime soon]

While [OneWeb] was close to obtaining financing, the process did not progress because of the financial impact and market turbulence related to the spread of COVID-19, said the company in a statement.

Across an eight-year history, OneWeb managed to successfully launch 74 of its 650 planned satellites an impressive feat for a startup.

It raised $3.4 billion in total, led by Japans embattled tech giant SoftBank. Other repeat investors included Qualcomm Technologies and the government of Rwanda.

Its mission was to provide rural and under-connected parts of the world like Rwanda with reliable high-speed, low-latency internet access using a constellation of low-orbit (LEO) satellites.

The firm says early system demonstrations showed it was capable of providing broadband speeds in excess of 400 Mbps, with latency of 32ms. Current average download speeds in the US are just 137 Mbps for fixed broadband, according to Ookla.

OneWeb wasnt the only one inspired to flood Earths orbit with internet-beamingsatellites. Canadian telecoms provider Telesat also wants launch hundreds of its own, and while not exactly the same thing, we cant forgetGoogles audacious balloon concept Project Loon.

However, the real action is with the worlds richest tech moguls.Elon Musks rocket company SpaceX has its ambitious Starlink, which seeks to send almost 12,000 satellites into low orbit (NB: that number could even be as high as 42,000). Users would buy terminals from SpaceX, which would connect their devices to its space-powered internet.

So far, Starlink has sent about 300 satellites above Earth, and reportedly still has plans to expand coverage throughout 2020 and offer high-speed internet services at a discount price.

Similarly, Jeff Bezos Project Kuiper is ramping up plans to shoot more than 3,500 satellites into (low) orbit, but is yet to launch any.

In other Bezosrocket news, his space exploration firmBlue Origin just revealed that the US government had granted it a coronavirus lockdown exemption and would continue operating amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Hard Fork has reached out to the SpaceX competitor to learn more about how Project Kuiper fits into thoseexemptions, if at all, and will update this piece should we receive a reply.

Published March 30, 2020 16:20 UTC

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Bezos and Musks internet-from-space race is back on - The Next Web

The Next 10 Years: Continuing our Solar System Tour – The Planetary Society

Our survey of the solar system in anticipation of the next planetary science decadal survey continues with Mars, the big outer planets, and the smaller bodies that share the neighborhood. Three more great scientists share their looks ahead. Staying responsibly stuck at home is easier when you can look up at a gorgeous night sky. Bruce Betts is here to help with another fun edition of Whats Up and a Random Space Fact or two.

Bruce and Mat will record an outgoing message for your phone, if you dare.

What mission saw the first musical instruments played in space? (Human performance on a real instrument or instruments. Live. In space.)

Who was the first person to do a deep space EVA (extravehicular activity or spacewalk)? Deep space is defined as beyond low Earth orbit.

The winner will be revealed next week.

The Chandrasekhar limit is the maximum mass of a stable white dwarf star. In solar masses, what is the approximate value of the Chandrasekhar limit?

The Chandrasekhar limit beyond which a non-rotating white dwarf star will collapse is about 1.4 solar masses.

Mat Kaplan: [00:00:00] What will the next 10 years bring the rest of our solar system? That's this week on Planetary Radio. Welcome. I'm Mat Kaplan of the Planetary Society, with more of the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. Last week we took up Mercury, Venus, and Earth's moon. Now our look ahead takes us to Mars. The giant outer planets, and to the smaller bodies that pepper our entire solar system and beyond.

Three more great scientists will talk about their contributions to the equinox edition of The Planetary Report, focusing on what we've already learned and the big questions that remain in each of these realms. Then we'll check in with Bruce Betts for what I think is a particularly entertaining edition of What's Up, including a new space trivia contest.

Headlines from the down link are moments away. First though, here's an opportunity I'm excited about. Our good friends [00:01:00] at Explore Mars, creators of the annual Humans to Mars summit have asked me to moderate an online discussion with NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green, and Penny Boston of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Many of you will hear this too late to join the live event at 1:00 PM eastern on April 1, but Explore Mars will make the complete conversation available on demand.

The next Planetary Science Decadal survey, that community authored document that will guide NASA science priorities from 2023 through 2032 will place an increased emphasis on astrobiology and planetary defense. The Planetary Society supports the inclusion of these topics. It was anticipation of this next survey that inspired the interviews you heard here last week and are about to hear this week.

In person work on most NASA projects, including the James Webb space telescope, the Orion spaceship, and the space launch [00:02:00] system has stopped due to COVID-19 restrictions. One exception is NASA's Perseverance Mars rover which must blast off during a narrow July, August window while Earth and Mars are optimally aligned. If Perseverance misses that window, the next opportunity will be in 2022, along with the already delayed Rosalind Franklin rover from the European Space Agency.

Also, still in progress despite COVID-19 quarantines, NASA's Commercial Crew program, which is preparing for its inaugural astronaut launch in May. Those preparations hit a snag after a Falcon 9 rocket lost an engine during its fourth re-flight. A few days later, some Space X parachute testing hardware crashed to the ground during a helicopter drop test. Though apparently the parachute system was not at fault. It's unclear whether either incident will impact the May launch.

All of the fun and informative features of this week's down link are [00:03:00] online at planetary.org/downlink, or you can be like me and have it delivered to your inbox each week for free. We continue our steady progress from Mercury to the outer reaches of the solar system with a stop at the red planet. Ramses Ramirez is a planetary scientist and astrobiologist from the Earth-Life Science Institute. Part of the Tokyo Institute of Technology. He's also an affiliate scientist with the Space Science Institute. He joined me the other day from Tokyo. Ramses, welcome to Planetary Radio. I'm happy to have you kick off the second set, numbers four, five, and six of these conversations. With all of you six scientists who wrote articles for the current issue of the Planetary Report, and of course you took on Mars. Thanks for doing this and thanks for the article too.

Ramses Ramirez: Thank you and I'm very glad to be here Mat.

Mat Kaplan: Well, it's obviously a subject you care a lot about. We found the water up there on Mars. We [00:04:00] know more or less now where the atmosphere went. Kudos to the Maven Orbiter. We even found organics. What's left on the red planet for us to discover?

Ramses Ramirez: Oh, there is, there's really a lot to discover on the red planet. We're just barely scratched the tip of the iceberg. Like you've said, Maven has brought in a lot of good information about accessing the atmosphere escape rates today. On Mars, as we understand them, based on solar activity, and then they've been able to come up with estimates as to how much atmosphere Mars could have lost over time.

My main focus, my main specialty is really understanding the, the early climate of Mars because then you know, that has potential parallels to how life could have started on Earth. We see interesting geologic features on Mars. Lots of fluvial valleys and networks and uh, kind of like you can think of them as Grand Canyon-like features that required a lot of water, so there's a lot of evidence that Mars used to be a [00:05:00] more Earth-like planet in the past, with a thicker atmosphere.

What Maven was able to tell us was, or infer is how much atmosphere Mars could have lost from then and now, which was a pretty big number. At least half a bar or so, which would suggest that Mars had a thicker atmosphere that potentially could have supported uh, liquid water on the surface at one point, and who knows? Maybe could have fostered conditions that were suitable for the emergence of life there too.

Mat Kaplan: So, one bar, that's the pressure of our own atmosphere here on Earth, right? At sea level. So if Mars once had that much air, it's lost half of it?

Ramses Ramirez: Yeah, that's actually, that's the, the interesting thing is that those estimates are really only a lower bound estimate.

Mat Kaplan: Wow.

Ramses Ramirez: Because they're able to, what Maven was able to do was infer some escape mechanisms. We call them non-thermal escape mechanisms. But they were very [00:06:00] strong thermal escape mechanisms, other escape mechanisms that would have been present in the past that you know, is not easy to tease out of the Maven analysis that could have to lead to even higher escape rates. So then the inference is that perhaps the atmosphere was at least one bar or more in the past. So, yeah. It's very exciting.

Mat Kaplan: Well, Mars, since you are interested in its early history when it apparently did have a lot more air. Obviously it would have been more habital back then, at least to life as we know it. Put that in quotes, and its habitability that you obviously care a great deal about. I mean, your website, habitalplanets.wordpress.com. We'll put up that link on this week's show page as well. You had a term there that I'm not familiar with and maybe you could take a moment to explain it; "dynamic habitability."

Ramses Ramirez: Yeah, this is a new term based on some [00:07:00] astrobiology reports that scientists put together the past year or two uh, to the scientific community. They've used that word and I kind of like it because it describes very well what I'm interested in as far as the scientific research goes. What that really just means is that habitability is extremely complicated, in a nutshell. And the long answer to that is that it requires an interdisciplinary approach to be able to assess the habitability of planets. You cannot just look at say the solar factors or geologic factors or the atmospheric factors.

Planetary habitability or dynamic habitability is really a systems level analysis that requires the influx of many different disciplines interacting with each other to try to answer these very tough questions. You can't just rely on biology or chemistry, or any one discipline by itself. With the influx in data that we're getting from all these missions, the Mars missions and now the Mars [00:08:00] 2020, hopefully that will give us a lot more. Should give us a lot more information and these exoplanet missions, all these different pieces from all these different fields, plus biology and chemistry will be able to ... I think we're, we're on the verge of a renaissance or renaissance of knowledge.

Mat Kaplan: Sounds like planetary science which is by definition multi-disciplinary.

Ramses Ramirez: That's right.

Mat Kaplan: All right. Let's pick up the three questions that you chose for Mars. The big question's remaining. Just as your colleagues who also wrote for this issue of the Planetary Report did. The first of these takes us back to the atmosphere. What was the atmosphere composition? Not just how thick it was or how dense it was of a warmer, early Mars. You talked about this consideration that perhaps it may have been carbon dioxide like a lot of it is now, but also hydrogen? Co2 and hydrogen?

Ramses Ramirez: Yeah, this is an interesting idea that's [00:09:00] actually not too old. Several years ago, 2013, '14, around that time frame we had proposed this as a possible mechanism because really the story has been for you know, a long time that the climate models really predict that Co2 by itself and water vapor would not be enough to warm the planet, no matter what model. No matter how much CO2 you put in the atmosphere, the Co2 has a strong greenhouse effect, but once you get to high pressures it also likes to condense out of the atmosphere and reflect a lot of radiation out into space. So, there's kind of a sweet spot beyond which you can't maximize the warming from that and that warming was always well below the freezing point of water. So then that caused many investigators to look at other possibilities, so Co2 in addition to other greenhouse gases, maybe you know, SO2, methane, other [00:10:00] possibilities, and a lot of these have issues.

SO2 for instance is good for warming cold planets, but not good for sustaining warmth on warm planets because it pulverizes and becomes very refractive and once it gets warm, you start to rain, it actually rains out of the atmosphere. Methane also has issues with stability. The atmosphere and other things. Hydrogen, we proposed that to be the other gas next to Co2 that would have been put on early Mars, primarily based on meteoritic evidence suggesting that Mars used to probably out gas a lot of this stuff. A lot of volcanism on Mars probably, uh, on early Mars, could have been hydrogen rich based on the meteoritic evidence suggesting that the mantle, the deeper interior of the Earth could have been oxygen poor, more hydrogen rich, so from there we infer that the early [00:11:00] atmosphere on Mars could have likely also been hydrogen rich.

And it just turns out because of the radiant transfer details that the combination of Co2 and hydrogen really gives you a good bang for the buck. Co2 absorbs well at certain wavelengths. Absorption works at different wavelengths across the spectrum, but hydrogen then also absorbs well, or the combination of Co2, hydrogen absorbs well in regions where Co2 and water alone do not absorb well, so it kind of picks up these windows. Hydrogen itself is not really a good greenhouse gas, but if you put it in collisions with another big background gas like Co2, it'll, you'll be able to excite these transitions and have that combined molecular pair, Co2 and hydrogen to absorb very strongly, so that's what's going on there.

Mat Kaplan: An intriguing model, but how will we go about determining if this was [00:12:00] actually the nature of the martian atmosphere a billion or so years ago or more?

Ramses Ramirez: Yeah, this is a very good question and it's something that we will have to actually, I think, with the Mars 2020, maybe we'll get some answers. One thing you want to answer before you even answer the atmosphere composition is whether early Mars was warm or cold, so there's still that lingering debate.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah. That's your second question that you posed, uh, which has come up on the show before. Was it warm and wet or cold and icy and just got warm every now and then? But not for very long.

Ramses Ramirez: Exactly, and essentially what Mars 2020 can do and future Mars missions is start assessing. The rover's going to start assessing these terrains and look for evidence of icy features. So far, rover missions we have at [Gale 00:12:54] and the orbital missions have not found any convincing evidence of an icy early Mars, which gives [00:13:00] more weight to the idea that Mars was probably not that icy. It was a pretty warm planet in the past. We need to continue those analysis and to verify that, but that seems to be again, more promising, this idea that Mars was once a warmer and wetter planet. But given that, if we're able to show that, in conjunction with that, yes. We want to determine exactly how did it get warm? What atmospheric conditions led to its warmth?

And that's a harder question, but you know, in one sense, a Co2, hydrogen atmosphere probably one idea is perhaps that you wouldn't expect that much oxygen, if at all in such an atmosphere, so there are markers. There are these things called banded iron formations that formed on the early Earth that just required some oxygen. Not a whole lot, but some oxygen in the atmosphere, or at least near the ocean and then you know, you can get reactions either abiotic [00:14:00] or biotic. That's debated. And form these, these iron bands.

So, you know, one thought is perhaps maybe you wouldn't expect to see those sorts of formations on early Mars if it was very oxygen poor. Some people would say, "Well, you know, on a warm early Mars, you know, with say an ocean in the northern hemisphere, which is what some of us like to say, that would be a good environment. If there's just a little bit of oxygen in the atmosphere, maybe that would be enough to get you these banded iron formations. Because these banded iron formations that we see on the Earth formed these ocean basins in the past. So maybe you would get them. So it's not clear, actually, which way that would go. But if we are able to determine Mars was a warmer planet and we confirmed it was an ocean there, but there's no oxygen, then that would give weight to the highly reducing or oxygen poor atmosphere that was hydrogen [00:15:00] rich. So, it's uncertain, but that's highly debated. It's a very complex problem.

Mat Kaplan: Hmm. A lot more to learn. Of course oxygen, it wouldn't be definitive evidence that there was or is life on Mars, but it wouldn't hurt to find some or evidence of past oxygen. Um, and that leads us to your third question and it is of course the big one. Did or does life exist on the red planet? Are we closing in? Are we getting closer? Now particularly with looking forward to the 2020 rover, now known as Perseverance and Rosalind Franklin which sadly we've learned is going to be a couple of extra years getting there while the European Space Agency and the Russians iron out the kinks.

Ramses Ramirez: Yeah, unfortunately, yeah. It's getting postponed. I think maybe it's due to the or partly at least this current epidemic, but um-

Mat Kaplan: Not helping.

Ramses Ramirez: Yeah, that's definitely not helping. As far as this question about did life exist or life, does it currently exist [00:16:00] on Mars, that's a ... That's the big million dollar question right there. You know, I said earlier if Mars was warmer and wetter and had a thicker atmosphere, as a lot of atmospheric and geologic indicators seem to imply, then that certainly would have fostered the conditions, uh, uh, especially if there was with liquid water evidence also that we're seeing, that would have fostered, uh, the conditions necessary for the emergence of life. And perhaps we'd be able to find evidence in the way of fossils uh in the rock record, but that's uh, that would probably require a man mission to send folks there. Planetary geologists and planet paleontologists that can dig up the surface and see if there's any evidence of fossils. Uh, which would be very cool if we found them. Because that would-

Mat Kaplan: Wouldn't it?

Ramses Ramirez: That would suggest a second ... I mean that would have extreme implications because if we able to, especially determine that life had emerged [00:17:00] independently, the suggestion would be on an exo-planetary scale that perhaps life is relatively common if two planets in our solar system, the first two that we begin to deep, dig deep, we find fossils that least microbial life or some sort of primitive life is pretty common in the universe. So, that's really cool.

Mat Kaplan: It's a much better sample than a sample of one, isn't it?

Ramses Ramirez: Exactly. It definitely would at least prove that life is possible outside of our planet, which has very strong scientific and philosophical implications. We don't think that there's life on the surface of the present Mars because it's pretty sterile, but there could very well be. Not just fossils, but actual living creatures underneath the surface that are shielded away from the radiation. So we, you know, little microbes or something that we'll have to prove, but I think we'll be able to show that pretty soon, in the next several years or so I hope we'll be able to [00:18:00] make headway on that question.

Mat Kaplan: You and me both and probably everybody who listens to this show. Of course, there are those, we won't have time to go into this particularly, but you do mention in the article, there are those who believe that we already found micro fossils that came from Mars on ALH84001, that mysterious uh meteorite. But, we'll save that for another time. Are you one of those who like pretty much every other scientist that I've spoken to, believes that the holy grail, at least for robotic exploration is still sample return?

Ramses Ramirez: I certainly think, you know my opinion of the holy grail is sending people there.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, that, that's why I included the word "robotic," because I know how you feel about boots on Mars. We're going to get to that in a second, but okay, but short of people.

Ramses Ramirez: Yes. Well, short of people uh, sample return could definitely be, I would have to agree that that's probably the best thing that we can do aside from [00:19:00] remotely analyzing you know samples spectroscopically or what not, but yeah, sample return would be the next best thing we can do aside from actually sending people there. I would agree with that.

Mat Kaplan: Let's get to humans. You wrote a great 2018 blog post for Scientific American that I read at the time, didn't realize I'd be talking to you a year and a half, couple years later. You called it, Forget the Moon. So you apparently think, or I should ask if you still think that we humans ought to be exploring Mars alongside our robots. I mean it seems pretty clear that you think that ought to be our target.

Ramses Ramirez: Yeah, certainly when I wrote that article there was certainly a large of tension in the community. There still is about whether we should go to Moon or Mars first. I definitely prefer Mars. I think, you know, we do have technology to go there and carefully, I think we can have a successful scientific mission there, sending people there. But I can understand the value [00:20:00] of the Moon as well. Wherever you know, we decide to go,

Ramses Ramirez: ... of the moon as well. Wherever we decide to go or do, if we're going to do a Moon mission first or a man, a mission to Mars first, you know, I'm on board with either one, but I just, my preference is, uh, from a scientific return mission and I think Mars has even more potential. That was really the point behind that article.

Mat Kaplan: I'll say what I've said in the past. I sure hope I'm around to see, uh, those first men and women, uh, set foot on the, on the Red planet, uh. Ramses been great talking with you. I gotta ask you one more question though. How'd you end up in Japan?

Ramses Ramirez: Oh, this is, uh, an interesting question. The Earth's life sciences too where I'm working at right now is just a, uh, I've been keeping my eyes on them for a long time, ever since I was PhD student. And you know, I think they do a lot of great work here. We have, uh, it's really, it's an astrobiology Institute and as you know, as I've discussed throughout this, the show, it's very important to, to have an interdisciplinary approach for these [00:21:00] types of origin of life and life problems, astrobiological problems. And the Institute specializes in that. Came here, gave some interviews, they really liked me and I, uh, I'm now a scientist here. I just really feel in line with the philosophy of the Institute.

Mat Kaplan: That's great. Sounds like a pretty adventurous as well. I mean, if you had the chance, would you, uh, leave Japan and be part of that first mission to Mars, be the astrobiologist, uh, with a, with a pickax and looking for those fossils?

Ramses Ramirez: Yeah, sure. If, if, you know-

Mat Kaplan: [laughs].

Ramses Ramirez: [laughs]. I were, you know, if, if, if I were called to, to do something like that, yeah, that would be great for humanity. I would, I would say. Yeah. Um, [laughs] I would definitely, uh, uh, be among those, uh, trying to look at these rocks and features and seeing what we can find. There's a lot of hypotheses. I definitely want to test some Mars, so if nothing else, if I can't go, at least, you know, I'd be able to guide or give my advice as to what scientific [00:22:00] direction should be taken on the Red planet.

Mat Kaplan: Ramses you've got my vote if, if anybody asks.

Ramses Ramirez: Thank you.

Mat Kaplan: Um, thank you. It's been great fun talking to you and, um-

Ramses Ramirez: Thank you Mat.

Mat Kaplan: Let's, let's go to Mars.

Ramses Ramirez: Yes, definitely. I agree with that [laughs]. Amen.

Mat Kaplan: That's planetary scientists and astrobiologist Ramses Ramirez. We'll shift to our more distant neighbors, the giant outer planets in a minute. Please help me welcome a new sponsor to Planetary Radio with it comes a heady opportunity for all you creative plan RAD listeners. This time it's genuine rocket science. I know because I've got a bottle of it.

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Kunio Sayanagi is an associate professor in the Hampton University department of Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Kunio thanks for joining us on Planetary Radio. As we've worked our way out through the solar system, we have finally [00:24:00] reached those big outer planets and you start your article right off by saying that learning about these worlds, the four of them Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune really means learning about every discipline within planetary science. Can you talk about that?

Kunio Sayanagi: Yes. The other planets have 95% of the planetary mass in the solar system and it covers every discipline of planetary science. My favorite, of course is atmospheric science because I specialize, specialize in the atmospheres, but of course the outer planets have many moons as well. Each of those moons offer an opportunity for serious geology, exotic geology that that can be compared to all other bodies in the solar system. And of course, Jupiter has the strongest magnetic field of all planetary bodies, so that offers a lot of science as well. And on, on, on top of that, each of the four giant [00:25:00] planets has extensive systems of rings. Each of the rings is a prototype for the protoplanetary disc where all the planets formed.

Of course protoplanetary disks happened long time ago and we can't see those locally now. But rings offer an opportunity where clumps of ring particles meet and grow and possibly form new satellites in those rings. And the outer planets captured the first materials that the protoplanetary disk had, so by studying the composition of the outer planets, we can study the original material that we had in our solar system.

Mat Kaplan: So much more to explore out there. We'll talk a little bit in a couple of minutes about what we've learned recently and what still remains to be learned and how we might go about doing that, the missions that are being talked about. Um, but [00:26:00] first I want to talk about the decadal survey process with you, which comes up very frequently on our show because you obviously agree with pretty much every other planetary scientist that it is a very important process.

Kunio Sayanagi: Yes, of course.

Mat Kaplan: You mentioned that even before the decadal survey process, you can look back more than 50 years and there were reports that, uh, that talked about these kinds of goals for, for first study of the outer planets. Apparently we have quite a, quite a history of curiosity about these worlds.

Kunio Sayanagi: When I started talking about the decadal survey or the writing about the decadal survey, I wanted to be precise, so I started reading some older document and I started to finding references to big survey that the National Academy did in 1965. As far as I can trace, that was the original point where scientists got together to formulate these big questions.

I was almost shocked that the three [00:27:00] questions really haven't changed since then. They are worded differently, but they, the three are about the origin of life and how life evolved. So that's one question. Another one is other source system formed and evo- evolved. And the third question is usually worded in many different ways of it, but it's, it is about present day processes. Studying how the processes are working today and still making the solar system evolve.

Mat Kaplan: I'm struck by the last part of that last question that you posed in the magazine. How do we get such diverse worlds, uh, because it'd be wrong to think of these, these four planets as, as being terribly similar. I mean, they obviously share some similarities, but you see, um, uh, plenty of reason, uh, to uh, identify them individually.

Kunio Sayanagi: Yeah, um, so we don't have to constrain ourselves to just to giant planets. I am a planetary atmospheric [00:28:00] scientist, so I am basically interested in weather and climate. Those are inherently present day processes but when we say weather, we can study it two different ways. Of course, earth offers a lot of opportunities. We live in this atmosphere so we can study a lot of things in situ. But to make progress we tend to study extreme events where we are challenging our knowledge, right?

So we can either wait for extreme things to happen on earth or we can seek out extreme things that are always happening from earth parameters and the relative to earth parameters, of course. And the giant planets offer big atmospheres. So they offer a lot of opportunities. And another thing I like saying is that planetary sciences, just like psychology, my wife is a psychologist by the way-

Mat Kaplan: [laughs].

Kunio Sayanagi: So I like saying that. In psychology you do not understand one person, one person to death to [00:29:00] understand human mind and behavior, right?

Mat Kaplan: Yeah.

Kunio Sayanagi: So in studying planetary weather, we don't just study one planet to say that we understand whether. We study all the planets we can study and try to understand underlying laws of physics that governs the weather.

Mat Kaplan: There are always surprises, aren't there? I mean, every time a mission has gone either to orbit a planet or to pass by one, we, we've talked many times on this program about the surprises that wait for us and, and frequently the theories that have to be rethought.

Kunio Sayanagi: Yeah. Um, my favorite example is the hexagon on Saturn.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah.

Kunio Sayanagi: Of course, and I, I just came off of the Cassini mission. I was an affiliate of the imaging science team, have you talked about the hexagon on this show before?

Mat Kaplan: Oh, many times, uh, both, uh, with Linda Spilker, the project scientist for Cassini, Linda is still, uh, the person, the individual who's been on the program more than anybody. And, [00:30:00] uh, not that long ago with the Carolyn Porco.

Kunio Sayanagi: Oh, great. My core specialties, atmospheric dynamics of the Zion planets so the hexagon on Saturn is one of my favorite features in planetary atmospheres. Um, the hexagon was found in Voyager data with the spacecraft flew by Saturn in 1980 and 81. The hexagon in the data, of course, it was not noticed until 1988 because it was in the polar reason and both of the probes, both of the Voyager probes flew by Saturn in the equatorial trajectories. So the hexagon was in the heart defined spot and those images. But in the 1988, there was a paper that got published and then that was very puzz- puzzling.

It took a long time to really come up, come up with an explanation. In 19- 1991, um, there was some theory papers that proposed, um, theoretical explanation for [00:31:00] those things. For the hexagon. But it was difficult to prove it was, it was not until 2010 and after when the computer simulations and became sophisticated enough to test those ideas and I've been a part of a couple of those papers. Basically it's a meandering jet stream.

Even in the Voyager data, it was very clear that at the center or the along the outline of the hexagon, there's a jet stream that's blowing eastward along the hexagon, hexagon outline. So we always knew that it was associated with a jet stream, but why it was meandering in the six sided shape was something where you couldn't really explain until the 2010s.

Mat Kaplan: I would bet them that you are just as fascinated by those six cyclones that, uh, have been imaged by Juno, still actively orbiting Jupiter that are Jupiter South pole. In fact, there is a [00:32:00] gorgeous rather stunning image of the cyclones in, in your article, in the planetary report.

Kunio Sayanagi: Yeah. So it's definitely puzzling that those cyclones do not merge. This is a knowledge we have from earth, Austin dynamics, by the way. So when we place vortices that are spinning in the same directions, they usually merge. That's what we would have expected at Jupiter when we place cyclones close to each other, any two would merge, but to find six of them together was a big sock at the beginning.

So I actually have a graduate student who's been studying the dynamics of that. I don't think he's found a case that found a way to keep them apart, but there is a postdoc at Caltech named Chang Lee. I think he just moved to Berkeley. Um, he found a way to keep the cyclones from merging. He just [00:33:00] presented the results at the AGU meeting last December and I think, um, I'd been waiting for that paper to come out.

Mat Kaplan: That's great to hear. And I wish we had more time to talk about what we've learned already, but we probably should go on to talking about the mission so that you're looking forward to in the next few years and you identify a, a several that you're, you're pretty excited about beginning with Europa Clipper.

Kunio Sayanagi: Sure. So that is what has become of what was the recommended by the last D. Kayla survey? The last, D. Kayla surveys, top three picks for a large class mission. These are the missions to be directed, uh, directed by NASA, managed directly by NASA. The top one is Mars Sample Return. That became a Mars 2020. The next one as recommended by the decadal survey, it was called Europa Jupiter Orbiter. It was an orbiter to orbit around Jupiter, but its main target was going to be [00:34:00] Europa. That is the Clipper mission that we are talking about now.

Mat Kaplan: And then of course the enormously exciting, not that Clipper isn't, a but Dragonfly, which is really fired the imaginations of so many people that that mission that uh, will be headed to Titan, although not for a few years yet.

Kunio Sayanagi: Yeah, it is part of the new frontiers program, uh, the program has supported a series of really exciting outer planet missions. The first one was a New Horizons mission. And then the second New, New Frontiers mission was Juno. It's doing really exciting science at Jupiter studying the atmosphere and interior, the latest excitement they're about to publish or they have just published, I haven't seen the paper, one of the core goals was to determine how much water Jupiter collected when it formed. That's going to tell us when and where Jupiter formed in the solar system so that [00:35:00] when the paper comes out that's going to be really exciting. And then of course the third one is OSIRIS-REx that's going to a near earth asteroids and then the fourth one is going to be Dragonfly.

Mat Kaplan: I want to mention at least in passing the European Space Agency's current preparation for the JUICE mission that Jupiter Icy Moon Explore another orbiter. I want to go further out in the solar system too and give some sympathy once again to pour a Uranus and Neptune and all those scientists who've been waiting for us to visit those outer planets once again, what would you like to see happen at one or both of these worlds and not just you, but what is being talked about in the community?

Kunio Sayanagi: Among the planets, Uranus and Neptune are the only ones that have not been visited by an orbiter. Uranus and Neptune have been visited by Voyager 2, Oh, I was in the second grade, I was, I was attending school, primary school and Japan. [00:36:00] When I started hearing the news on the radio and on TV about the Voyager 2 fly by of Uranus, I started asking a lot of questions to my parents about a Uranus and what Voyager 2 was doing out there.

See the original post:

The Next 10 Years: Continuing our Solar System Tour - The Planetary Society

Weekly Space Hangout: April 1, 2020 – Dr. Robert B. Hayes and Radiation Shielding in Space – Universe Today

Hosts:Fraser Cain (universetoday.com/@fcain)

Dr. Kimberly Cartier (KimberlyCartier.org / @AstroKimCartier )

Pam Hoffman (EverydaySpacer.com / @EverydaySpacer)

Michael Rodruck (@michaelrodruck)


This week we are airing Frasers prerecorded interview with Dr. Robert B. Hayes, Associate Professor of Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University. Dr. Hayes is co-author of a recent paper published January 7.

2020, in the journal Radiation Physics and Chemistry announcing the development of a new cost-effective technique for shielding military and space exploration electronics from the effects of ionizing radiation. According to Dr. Hayes, their approach can be used to maintain the same level of radiation shielding and reduce the weight by 30% or more, or you could maintain the same weight and improve shielding by 30% or more compared to the most widely used shielding techniques. Either way, our approach reduces the volume of space taken up by shielding.

Dr. Hayes is a Certified Health Physicist and a licensed Professional Engineer (nuclear) with industry and field experience in radiological emergency response, nuclear waste management, nuclear safety, radiation dosimetry, nuclear criticality safety, air monitoring, ALARA and shielding design.

His research interests include nuclear nonproliferation, radiological emergency response and nuclear waste disposal technologies which are advanced using novel hybrid approaches including radiation detection, air monitoring, luminescence and magnetic resonance coupled with Monte Carlo radiation transport modeling.

To read the complete February 12, 2020, press release from NC State visit https://news.ncsu.edu/2020/02/smaller-lighter-radiation-shielding/

To learn more about Rob, visit https://www.ne.ncsu.edu/people/rbhayes/

The Weekly Space Hangout is a production of CosmoQuest.

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Weekly Space Hangout: April 1, 2020 - Dr. Robert B. Hayes and Radiation Shielding in Space - Universe Today

Ten Tips From Scientists Who Have Spent Months in Isolation – Smithsonian.com

The world is locked down. From the United States to Peru to France to India to South Africa to New Zealand, billions of us are confined to our homes except for essential errands like grocery shopping. We wait and watch, hoping this extreme social distancing will slow the spread of the coronavirus. No one is sure how long this isolation will lastsome experts say it could be several months or more. So how can we have happy, productive (or at least semi-sane) days in this strange new reality?

Theres one group that knows: scientists who have lived in space or on remote research stations for months at a time. We reached out to several to get tips for living in isolation.

Most of the scientists we spoke to emphasized the importance of planning your day to avoid monotony and stay motivated.

Carmen Possnig, an Austrian physician, spent a year at Concordia Research Station in Antarctica, which is used by the European Space Agency to simulate life in outer space. For the nine months of polar winter, she and 12 colleagues lived together on the Antarctic Plateau, conducting research into the effects of isolation. Outside was a barren, icy moonscape, with temperatures below -100 Fahrenheit. The sun didnt rise for nearly four months. Possnig and her colleagues all experienced winter-over syndrome, a constellation of symptoms including irritability, insomnia and mood swings, thought to be brought on by isolation and the extreme climate. To keep herself sane and productive, Possnig divided every working day into half-hour segments the evening before. If you planned to check news only in the half-hour after lunch, you are not going to spent hours on it, she says.

American physician Sheyna Gifford spent a year366 days, thanks to Leap Dayin the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), a NASA-funded Mars simulation on the slopes of Hawaiis Mauna Loa volcano that hosts regular long-term space research missions. She and five crewmates lived in a small white dome, eating freeze-dried astronaut meals and communicating with the outside world via a 20-minute delay, as if they were really on Mars. If they went outside, they had to put on full space suits to simulate Martian conditions.

If you arent the type to go for schedules and checklists, thats ok, Gifford says. Try running your day like a game. Ask: what phase of the day am I in? Along with work, self-improvement and helping others, its ok, maybe necessary, to slot in a time for, doing nothing whatsoever. We did this for a few hours one day a month and it was glorious!

In Antarctica, we spent months building a climbing wall, Possnig says. I improved my piano skills, learned how to build Roman armour out of plaster, how to speak French and Italian, and started writing a book.

At HI-SEAS, after Gifford and her crewmates were done with their science experiments and habitat maintenance, they would do art, play music and games, and cut each others hair.

James Bevington, another HI-SEAS crew member (though in a different year than Gifford), fondly recalls his teams open-mic night. They also enjoyed cooking for each other, and once re-created a Subway sandwich bar for dinner.

Since the amount of time we spent outside was very limited, we needed to find an alternative, says Possnig, of herself and her Antarctic colleagues. Sports like yoga, Zumba, Pilates or strength training are easily done at home. It helped me with changing perspective on things, improved my physical well-being and reduced stress, making me more relaxed.

I went to the gym every day, says Nadja Albertsen, a Danish physician who spent a year as Concordias research doctor after Possnigs term was over. Yoga is a really good de-stressor as well.

Astronaut and chemist Cady Coleman has been to space three times, the third time being a yearlong mission to the International Space Station. Before that trip, Coleman, who is on the board of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, lived in a tent in Antarctica for a six-week meteorite-collecting expedition.

The lesson that I learned there that was very useful on the Space Station was you cant pick your team, and spending any time wishing your crewmates were different is a waste of time, she says.

Useful words, perhaps, for those of us stuck at home with squabbling roommates or nit-picking mothers-in-law.

This is an extreme situation, and not everybody is able to cope well with it, Possnig says. Your roommates small habit, unimportant until now, may suddenly trigger a fight. This is why it is important to talk about things that one perceives as annoying. The sooner, the better, and always in a friendly, open manner.

You really have to understand that mood spreads, says Bevington. You can see this really well when your entire social network is just you and five othersif one person wakes up in a bad mood they might snap at somebody and then it just goes around.

Moments of low mood or loss of motivation are part of the isolation, Possnig says. Trying to see the present helped mebreaking up the challenge into small parts, such as: what can I do now, in the next hours, this week? Every day youve made it through will improve your self-confidence and the feeling that you are able to cope with the isolation.

Try to appreciate the good things, compliment someone else, and remember that it will endit is not forever, Albertsen suggests. Take a day at a time, if its possible.

Colemans son was 10 when she spent a year on the International Space Station. She missed Christmas. She missed his birthday. To keep close, she could read to him every day over the phone from space (the Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, if youre looking for ideas). She would also help him with homework over the phone.

Gifford recommends reaching out to six people a day. These can be people you know, people with similar interests online and people doing work that interests you.

Ask them questions, she says. Offer words of encouragement. Teach them and learn something from them. Interact meaningfully.

Keep in touch with other people as much as possible, Albertsen agrees. Talk to each other, have fun and serious conversations. Use whatever means necessary such as Skype or Whatsapp."

If you dont have a pet of some kind, grow a plant or start a bread culture, Gifford says. Have something in your life that relies on you to help it live. Theres something viscerally grounding about the experience of feeding a life, however small it may be. Perhaps it helps put into perspective how each of our lives matters. Though the world may feel small on the outside, you are needed, here and now, in this place, for our joint missionwhich is survivalto succeed.

My crewmates and I have spoken about how one of the hardest aspects of being isolated and confined isnt what you cant do for yourself while inside your bubble, but rather what you cant do to help the world outside the bubble, says Gifford.

Giffords grandmother became ill and died during the simulation; Gifford had to say goodbye to her over a delayed video message. Another crewmember, a French astrobiologist, watched in horror as his hometown of Paris was attacked by terrorists, resulting in 130 deaths. Unable to make a phone call, he waited hours to find out whether or not his family was safe.

Coleman was in space when she found out her husband had forgotten to give their son the Christmas presents shed carefully stored away before launch. There wasnt much she could do about it from 250 miles above Earth. Its probably the only time I cried up there on the Space Station, she says. But she didnt yell at her husband, she says. She knew he was doing the best work he could as a single dad, and their son was perfectly fine with the Target gift card hed received instead. So its just [about] letting go, she says, and trying to focus on the things you do have control over.

Before Coleman left for the International Space Station, she had to spend nearly two months on pre-departure activities in Russia. Her family came out to see her before launch, but she had to visit from behind a pane of glass because of pre-launch quarantine rules. Thats a really hard thing, and the way to get through that is to focus on the importance of the mission, and the importance of me not traveling up to the Space Station carrying a cold from my sons 4th grade class, she says.

Today, Colemans now-19-year-old son uses the same mission mentality to understand why he cant visit his girlfriend, Coleman says. Because the mission at hand is protecting each other from coronavirus.

Life is really simple, and you get to really focus on the people youre with, says Bevington, of living in isolation. You get to build your own culture and your own little world. Its something I miss every single day. Now a PhD candidate in chemical engineering in Sydney, hes trying to use the lessons he learned at HI-SEAS to make social distancingwith five roommates, coincidentallyas positive an experience as possible.

In Antarctica, Albertsen made a habit of noting five good things every day. Like when the food was really good, someone told a really good joke or just remembering to enjoy and appreciate the surroundings and people, she says. She acknowledges that there are major differences between the experience of a scientist on a voluntary, possibly career-boosting mission, and a person at home in coronavirus isolation, worrying if their job will even be there when this is over. But there is light within the darkness.

One thing Ive really noticed is the way people are helping, appreciating and taking care of each othereven from a distance, she says. No one is alone in this, and remembering this is important, I think.

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Ten Tips From Scientists Who Have Spent Months in Isolation - Smithsonian.com

Tim Peake compares coronavirus lockdown to being in space as he appears on The One Show – Evening Standard

British astronaut Tim Peake has joined The One Show as a reporter and will front a series on how the coronavirus lockdown compares to being in space.

Peake appeared on The One Show on Wednesday via video link to announce his special project.

One of the films will compare his six months spent on the International Space Station to being isolated during the coronavirus lockdown.

The comparisons include being separated from family, communicating via video calls and exercising inside.

Peake is urging people tofocuson the importance of creating a sense of routine and having fun while inside.

British astronaut Tim Peake, member of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), gestures prior the launch of Soyuz TMA-19M space ship at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

Thumbs up from Major Tim Peake

Lift-off: The Soyuz FG rocket launch

All going to plan: Tim Peake after lift-off

Blast off: the launch of the rocket

Touching goodbye: Tim Peake bids farewell to his children

Maxim Shipenkov/Reuters

Final message; Tim Peake's last tweet before lift off

Family backing: Tim Peake with his loved ones


The rocket before lift off

Gareth Fuller/PA

Timothy Peake during training at the Canadian Space Agency

Canadian Space Agency via Getty Images

Tim Peake, left, with Yuri Malenchenko from Russia and Timothy Kopra from the United States

ESA/GCTC via Getty Images

Signature: Tim Peake follows tradition and signs a door at the Cosmonaut Hotel before his launch to the International Space Station

S Corvaja/Atlas Photo Archive/ESA

Farewell: Expedition 46 Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), top, Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA, center, and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA

NASA/Joel Kowsky via Getty Images

On board: Tim Peake

Tim Peake and EAC Instructor Gail Iles during a parabolic flight aboard the Airbus A300 Zero-G in 2010

ESA - A. Le Floc'h via Getty Images

Training exercise: Tim Peake in 2010

ESA - T. Peake via Getty Images

Training run: Tim Peake

ESA via Getty Images

Winter survival training: Tim Peake

ESA/Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre via Getty Images

Tim Peake stands among old space suits on display at the Science Museum in London

Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

British astronaut Tim Peake, member of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), gestures prior the launch of Soyuz TMA-19M space ship at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

Thumbs up from Major Tim Peake

Lift-off: The Soyuz FG rocket launch

All going to plan: Tim Peake after lift-off

Blast off: the launch of the rocket

Touching goodbye: Tim Peake bids farewell to his children

Maxim Shipenkov/Reuters

Final message; Tim Peake's last tweet before lift off

Family backing: Tim Peake with his loved ones


The rocket before lift off

Gareth Fuller/PA

Timothy Peake during training at the Canadian Space Agency

Canadian Space Agency via Getty Images

Tim Peake, left, with Yuri Malenchenko from Russia and Timothy Kopra from the United States

ESA/GCTC via Getty Images

Signature: Tim Peake follows tradition and signs a door at the Cosmonaut Hotel before his launch to the International Space Station

S Corvaja/Atlas Photo Archive/ESA

Farewell: Expedition 46 Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), top, Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA, center, and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA

NASA/Joel Kowsky via Getty Images

On board: Tim Peake

Tim Peake and EAC Instructor Gail Iles during a parabolic flight aboard the Airbus A300 Zero-G in 2010

ESA - A. Le Floc'h via Getty Images

Training exercise: Tim Peake in 2010

ESA - T. Peake via Getty Images

Training run: Tim Peake

ESA via Getty Images

Winter survival training: Tim Peake

ESA/Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre via Getty Images

Tim Peake stands among old space suits on display at the Science Museum in London

Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Peake told presenters Alex Jones and Amol Rajan he was thrilled to be starting his new gig.

He said: Its an incredibly exciting time for science, technology and space exploration and I cant wait to showcase some of the amazing work that is being done in the UK and to continue the outreach mission I started with Principia.

Peake also shared the news on Twitter, writing: "Really delighted to be joining #TheOneShow team - we have some great films planned for this year."

Peake became the first British citizen to complete a spacewalk on the International Space Station in 2016.

He also ran the 2016 London marathon on a treadmill from the ISS.

BBC Studios executive producer Michael Armit said: We are delighted to welcome Tim Peake to the One Show family.

He brings with him huge passion and expertise and we are excited to have him present a series of films covering everything from self-isolation to exploring life on Mars for us.

Peakes first film will air on The One Show on Friday, April 3.

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Tim Peake compares coronavirus lockdown to being in space as he appears on The One Show - Evening Standard

MBRSC invites proposals for research projects on ISS – Gulf Today

First Emirati Astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori conducts experiments on ISS.

Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent

Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), Dubai, invites applications from the UAEs research entities to propose scientific or technology-driven projects in the fields of Human Health or Earth & Space Science to be conducted by astronauts on the International Space Station.

The objective of the initiative is to provide research entities in the UAE the opportunity to further humanitys knowledge and support future space missions by conducting research that tackles challenges faced in the region that would eventually prepare for human exploration of the solar system beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

We are excited to open the doors of our growing space sector to the scientific community in the UAE and look forward to receiving proposals that will extend humankinds reach into space. This is an amazing opportunity for the scientific community to contribute to space research while gaining invaluable skills that will serve them well through the years, said MBRSC Director General Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani.

Earth & Space Science projects on the ISS mainly focus on testing technologies and materials that will be vital for long-duration exploration missions, or collecting Earth & space science related data from an altitude of ~400 km to provide comprehensive information when compared with data from Earth satellites or ground-based observatories. Whereas, human health research done on the space station focuses on improving astronaut health and performance, development of countermeasures, as well as the development and validation of new technologies to meet the needs of future exploration missions, and to enable safe and productive human space exploration.

We are proud to invite the brightest minds of the UAE to partake in the nations space exploration journey. The innovative and future-focused programme will create a new paradigm in building capabilities for the UAE in space science and technology, and will be a source of inspiration for future generation of scientists, said Salem Al Marri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC.

The invitation for proposals is open only to research entities in the UAE. Interested researchers may contact science@mbrsc.ae, latest by April 9, 2020, for more information on the submission process.

The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by the UAEs National Space Programme and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

In Dec 19, a team of engineers from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, MBRSC, along with university students who were part of a space science research programme affiliated with the centre, participated in the meeting of the American Geophysical Union, AGU.

The meeting is the largest annual international gathering related to Earth and space sciences.

The research projects discussed by the centre at the conference were presented by researcher Hessa Al Matrooshi, Leader of the Team responsible for the Management and Analysis of Scientific Data at the Hope Probe Project, Eng. Khaled Badri, Engineer of Scientific Devices at the Centre, and Ahmed Al Hantoubi, Third Year Student at Khalifa University.

Al Matrooshi stated that the centres participation in the AGU 2019 reflects the regional and international success of the UAEs national space sector, as well as the centres space research capacities.

She added that the scientific research presented at the AGU 2019 aims to produce an accurate visualisation of an important type of oxygen radiation present in the atmosphere of Mars, affirming that this research will contribute positively to the Hope Probe project.

As a result of this scientific research, we can analyse scientific data obtained from the Emirates Mars Mission, or the Hope Probe, through the spectrophotometer tool, EMUS, she said.

She also explained that the images that EMUS will capture have been simulated while considering engineering observational factors, noting that their research will focus on studying the relationship between oxygen radiation and solar activity on Mars.

The study relied on data from the MAVEN mission, Al Matrooshi further added, stressing that the results of preliminary studies show that oxygen radiation is more affected by solar activity when it is high, but when it is low, oxygen radiation is more affected by the dynamics of the upper layer of the atmosphere of Mars.

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MBRSC invites proposals for research projects on ISS - Gulf Today

Tim Peake to compare self-isolation to life in space for The One Show – Aberdeen Evening Express

Tim Peake will compare self-isolating at home with his experiences in space in the first of a series of special films for The One Show.

Major Peake, who became the first British citizen to complete a spacewalk on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2016, will turn presenter for the flagship BBC show as he takes a look at science and technology, with one film focusing on the exploration of life on Mars.

Another will see the astronaut explore the latest technology needed to engineer the ultimate space suit.

In his first film for the weekday evening BBC One show, Peake will compare his activities while on the ISS for six months to those of people self-isolating at home during the coronavirus pandemic, such as taking video calls and exercising indoors.

He will focus on the importance of having a routine while also remembering to have fun.

Peake said: Im delighted to be joining The One Show. Its an incredibly exciting time for science, technology and space exploration and I cant wait to showcase some of the amazing work that is being done in the UK and to continue the outreach mission I started with Principia.

BBC Studios executive producer Michael Armit added: We are delighted to welcome Tim Peake to The One Show family.

He brings with him huge passion and expertise and we are excited to have him present a series of films covering everything from self-isolation to exploring life on Mars for us.

Peakes first film will air on The One Show on Friday April 3.

See the rest here:

Tim Peake to compare self-isolation to life in space for The One Show - Aberdeen Evening Express

Space Physicists Find Plasmoid in Magnetosphere of Uranus | Planetary Science, Space Exploration – Sci-News.com

Uranus possesses an intrinsic magnetic field that encircles the ice giant and influences the local space environment. The solar wind plasma, made up of charged particles, flows away from the Sun and interacts with Uranus magnetic field to form what is called a planetary magnetosphere. In a new study, a duo of space physicists at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center analyzed high-resolution magnetic field data collected by Voyager 2 during the Uranus flyby in 1986 and found that the spacecraft flew through a plasmoid a giant bubble filled with planetary plasma in the tail of Uranus magnetosphere.

Uranus in natural colors. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble Team / Erich Karkoschka, University of Arizona.

Little known at the time of Voyager 2s flyby, plasmoids have since become recognized as an important way planets lose mass.

These giant bubbles of plasma pinch off from the end of a planets magnetotail, the part of its magnetic field blown back by the Sun like a windsock.

With enough time, escaping plasmoids can drain the ions from a planets atmosphere, fundamentally changing its composition.

They had been observed at Earth and other planets, but no one had detected plasmoids at Uranus yet.

Dr. Gina DiBraccio, a space physicist at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center and project scientist for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, and her colleague, Dr. Dan Gershman, analyzed data from Voyager 2s magnetometer.

With no idea what theyd find, they zoomed in closer than previous studies, plotting a new datapoint every 1.92 seconds.

Smooth lines gave way to jagged spikes and dips. And thats when they saw it: a tiny zigzag with a big story.

Do you think that could be a plasmoid? Dr. Gershman asked Dr. DiBraccio, catching sight of the squiggle.

The plasmoid they found occupied a mere 60 seconds of Voyager 2s 45-hour-long flight by Uranus. It appeared as a quick up-down blip in the magnetometer data.

But if you plotted it in 3D, it would look like a cylinder, Dr. Gershman said.

Comparing their results to plasmoids observed at Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury, they estimated a cylindrical shape at least 204,000 km (127,000 miles) long, and up to roughly 400,000 km (250,000 miles) across.

Like all planetary plasmoids, it was full of charged particles mostly ionized hydrogen, the researchers believe.

Readings from inside the plasmoid as Voyager 2 flew through it hinted at its origins.

Whereas some plasmoids have a twisted internal magnetic field, Dr. DiBraccio and Dr. Gershman observed smooth, closed magnetic loops. Such loop-like plasmoids are typically formed as a spinning planet flings bits of its atmosphere to space.

Centrifugal forces take over, and the plasmoid pinches off, Dr. Gershman said.

According to their estimates, plasmoids like that one could account for between 15 and 55% of atmospheric mass loss at Uranus, a greater proportion than either Jupiter or Saturn. It may well be the dominant way Uranus sheds its atmosphere to space.

How has plasmoid escape changed Uranus over time? With only one set of observations, its hard to say.

Imagine if one spacecraft just flew through this room and tried to characterize the entire Earth. Obviously its not going to show you anything about what the Sahara or Antarctica is like, Dr. DiBraccio said.

But the findings help focus new questions about the planet. The remaining mystery is part of the draw.

Its why I love planetary science. Youre always going somewhere you dont really know, Dr. DiBraccio said.

The findings were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


Gina A. DiBraccio & Daniel J. Gershman. Voyager 2 constraints on plasmoid-based transport at Uranus. Geophysical Research Letters, published online August 9, 2019; doi: 10.1029/2019GL083909

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Space Physicists Find Plasmoid in Magnetosphere of Uranus | Planetary Science, Space Exploration - Sci-News.com